When Your “Leader” is Really a Manager

I’ve written from time to time about the differences between leading and managing. Basically you lead people and you manage things. Things include budgets, processes, schedules, inventories, etc. People on the other hand actually resist being managed, they truly need leadership to prosper and thrive. 

So, what do you do when the person above you is a manager who happens to occupy a leadership position? What do you do when your boss doesn’t understand the difference between leading and managing? What do you do when your boss treats you like a thing to be managed?

Well, the first thing you do is NOT add to the problem by behaving like somebody who needs to be managed rather than led. Your role is never to point out the weaknesses of the person above you in the organization. Like it or not your role is to actually try and fill whatever “gaps” your boss may have. 

I am fully aware of how difficult that can be on many levels. It’s very tough on your ego because if you do your job well your boss may receive most of the credit. The fact that they are not a leader virtually guarantees that they won’t be sharing any of the credit with you. You must fight through that and continue to perform at the highest level possible because it’s the right thing to do. If that sounds too simplistic do the right thing anyway. Doing the right thing in difficult circumstances can be one of the hardest things you will ever have do, do the right thing anyway.

Never use the fact that the person above you in your organization is a poor leader as an excuse to be a poor leader yourself. 

I normally recommend that leaders in the middle of an organization “lead up” in their organization and try to be a positive influence on those above them in the organization. In short, be a help, not a hindrance. That can be a tremendous challenge when the person in the leadership position above you is a manager and not a leader. 

Here’s why.

Good leaders either were or still are great followers. They allowed or still allow themselves to be taught, mentored, and developed. If the person in the leadership position above you has somehow gotten there without ever really leading it’s also likely that they were not very good as a follower either. That makes it very challenging for you to be a positive influence on them. They live in a misguided world were they apparently believe they already know everything there is to know. They are not very open to outside influences.

As a leader yourself you need to understand that “challenging” does not mean impossible so “lead up” anyway. Continually try to help the person above you grow as a leader because you just never know and besides, leading up is the right thing to do.

In my first job after college I was managed by someone in a leadership position. I did not respond well. I was most certainly a hindrance and if I must say so myself I was damn good at it. But I was a crummy employee who was almost completely devoid of leadership skills. If only I knew then what I know now…

In the last 30 years of my career I’ve been blessed to never experience being “led” by a manager again. I think I’m unusual in that regard. All too often I see people whose potential is limited by a manager sitting in a position of leadership. But the fact of the matter is, successful people also lead themselves exceptionally well. If your boss isn’t a leader then lead yourself. Find a mentor to help you, but always take it upon yourself to reach your potential. 

It’s YOUR success so ultimately YOU must make it happen!

 

Do you Know Who You Are?

Wealthy people have valuables. Successful people have values and they have honor to go with them.   

Here’s a fact: you can have “it all” but if you came by any of it dishonorably then you may be wealthy but you are not a success. 

Successful people, truly successful people, not the ones who merely appear successful, have values. Core values. These values make them who they are. These values are the guideposts for their life. These values inform each and every decision that they make. 

Successful people will change their priorities. They will adjust their goals and they will compromise when compromise is called for. They will never never never sacrifice their core values for the appearance of success. 

Priorities and goals are based on wants, needs and life circumstances at any given moment. Core values are based on principle and they are rock solid, once determined they do not change. If you’ve given up or sacrificed what you believed to be a core value then it wasn’t a core value after all. 

Here’s another fact and it’s a sad one. Most people when asked can not identify their core values. They know there are “things” that are truly important to them but they just haven’t put enough thought into them to be able to verbalize them. 

If you can’t verbalize your core values then your core values aren’t guiding you. 

You are likely not living the life that you want for yourself. It’s possible other people are making decisions for you that have a profoundly negative influence on your life. Your life feels beyond your control. It doesn’t have to be that way. 

You were created for a purpose, your life matters. You are special. Unique. Valuable. You can make a difference. You may doubt that today but once you have identified your core values you’ll know it to be absolutely true.

Invest time each day to discover your core values. Reflect on your life, every part of your life, to determine what and who really matters. You’ll likely find that very few of the important things and people you hold so dear really matter. Once you’ve determined what and who really matter and why they really matter, you’ll be well on your way to discovering your core values.

Knowing your core values will make every decision easier. They will be your guide in good times and especially in tough times. Your core values will become your foremost counselor. 

Never measure success in terms of wealth; money can only help determine what someone is. True success is based on adherence to one’s values because it’s a person’s values that determines who they are.

So…..do you know who you are?

What the World Owes You

The World OwesThis could be the shortest blog post in the history of blogging. The answer to what the world owes you, me, and every other person in it is the same. Nothing!

That’s right nothing! Nada, zip, zero, absolutely nothing.

I could end this post right there and you would have the basic point, we don’t always get what we want but we do usually get what we earn.

If you live your life with any other belief you’ll likely live a life of disappointment and bitterness. You’ll live a life full of jealous anger and that anger will limit your ability to accomplish anything that truly makes a difference.

If you believe that “life” is somehow magically “fair” you’ll also likely be disappointed. Life, as it turns out, is only as fair as each individual chooses to make it. Every person who has ever lived gets dealt a bad hand from time to time and it’s how they play those cards that will determine their ultimate success.

Some people get dealt a bad hand and just fold. Successful people who understand that the world owes them nothing make the most of out of bad situation and learn from their mistakes and losses. People who believe that the world owes them something just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

Clearly there are exceptions to everything but generally speaking, successful people simply work harder and smarter than people who go through life expecting a hand out and being disgusted when they don’t get one.

This is the true secret to success: if you want more, work more.

You want help? Help yourself! People who help themselves have very little trouble finding other people who will help them more. People who refuse to help themselves often lament the lack of help available and curse the “lucky” people who did get help.

People who believe the world owes them a life operate with their eyes closed to avoid the reality of the “lucky” people diligently working all around them.

Life isn’t fair until you make it fair. Don’t criticize others for the work they have, learn how they got it and copy their methods and efforts.

The world doesn’t owe you a thing and will seldom steal from you any success you have earned. If you are one of those unfortunate few who have had their success stolen from them by circumstances then play those cards and continue to work. Effort always pays off eventually.

If you are willing to work for true success then always remember, no one “owes” you a thing. Life your life knowing that nothing is due you until you first do something. Whatever level of success you achieve you’ll sleep better know that you have earned it!