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YES, There is a Difference Between Managing and Leading

I haven’t written about this topic for a while. Lately I’ve been frustrated by the number of people I’ve come into contact with who think they are the same. So here I go again!

Managing is about stuff, like budgets, buildings, inventories and spreadsheets. We manage stuff. Leading is about people and only people. No one leads a business, they manage the business. They lead the people who work at the business. 

And NO, I’m not playing games with words. There is a huge difference in the mindset of people who foolishly think they can manage another human being and a person who knows they can’t. Most people know that they personally resist being managed. They want to be led. Many of those same people however, don’t realize that the people they are trying to manage feel just like them. 

If you’re in a leadership position you need to understand that most of the issues you would describe as personnel issues, especially attitude issues, stem from YOU trying to manage people rather than lead them. It will be that way until you actually begin to lead. 

A substantial majority of people holding leadership positions in the United States have never had a minute of formal leadership training. If you’re wondering how that can be here are a couple of statistics for you from research conducted earlier this year. It is consistent with other research done in previous years. 

77% of businesses in the US say that leadership is lacking in their organizations. 83% say that leadership development at all levels within their organization is a priority. Yet only 5% of them have implemented formal leadership development at any level. 

That’s why so many people who hold leadership positions think they are leading when they actually are not. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. 

Managing people may seem easier then leading them. When you manage people you most likely tell them what to do. You tell them if, in your opinion, they did what they were told. If they did what they were told that’s pretty much the end of it. If they didn’t do what they were told there will be hell to pay. Sound familiar?

While managing people may seem easier then leading it is actually creating problems at the same time it is damaging culture. Sometimes severely damaging culture. 

Leading people is complicated. It is challenging. There is no end to it. But…it is 1000 times more rewarding than trying to manage them. You may not always succeed in leading people. You will never, never, never succeed at managing people. 

Leading people is complicated because, well because they are people. They are emotional beings. If you’re going to lead people you must be willing, and prepared, to deal with their emotions. The moment I hear someone in a leadership position say “I refuse to deal with the drama” people try to bring to me, I know I’m talking to a manager rather than a leader. 

Leadership at it’s core is helping people deal with what’s happening in their lives. It is about helping ordinary, often “messy” people achieve extraordinary results. In spite of whatever messes and limitations they may have in their lives. You cannot, you absolutely cannot, lead another human being without caring for them. If you don’t care about what’s happening in their lives you won’t be able to care for them in their careers.

Telling people to keep their “home life” separate from their work like is another sign you’re trying to manage rather than lead. As an emotional human being YOU have never once been able to completely separate your home life from your work life. Yet you expect the people you’re supposed to be leading to do it every day. And then you wonder why your people have an attitude issue. 

I once worked for a guy, thankfully I didn’t report directly to him, who said it was his job to keep people guessing. If they knew what he expected of them then they wouldn’t be “on their toes.” He was kinda right about that because it’s tough to be on your toes when you’re always looking over your shoulder. 

If your people do not know exactly what you expect from them that’s a sure sign you’re not leading. Authentic Leaders communicate with the people they lead. Very very frequently. If you haven’t talked to each one of your direct reports this week then you’re trying to manage them, you’re not leading them.

Please do not even attempt to tell me you don’t have time to even have a five minute conversation each week with every person you’re supposed to be leading. If that’s the case you either have way too many direct reports or you do not understand the difference between trying to manage people and the privilege of leading them. 

Manage things, lead people. When you do that, you, your people, and your business will truly have the opportunity to experience explosive growth.

On a another subject…I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

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