Leader or Manager?

Much has been written about this topic, some of which is disparaging to managers. I submit we need both.

Are you a manager of tasks? A task manager is someone who makes sure that employees are accomplishing work and conforming to standards and procedures. This ensures the work will be of the highest quality. We need task managers. We need strong managers who make sure work is completed. If you are a task manager, thank you for your excellence, for your dedication to quality, and your undying efforts to accomplish work.

We also need change agents. We need people who can look at a process, system, organization or culture and determine that there can be a better way and how to achieve it. This is a person of vision – someone who can articulate purpose, and then bring stakeholders along to make that vision a reality. 

I submit that these two types of people – task managers and change agents – are cut from different cloth. Here are three requirements for someone to be successful in the role of a change agent:

  1. Humility:  A successful change agent must be willing to confront their insecurities. There can be no talk of “my way or the highway.” She must be willing to admit there might be a better way to handle various details along the way. She must be willing to surround herself with people smarter than she and listen to them. I mean really listen, and then apply what she hears.
  2. Selflessness (read that again):  The successful change agent realizes that it’s not just about her. In fact, she recognizes that it is less about her than it is about the team. She readily and sincerely heaps praise on her team and makes everyone the hero – except herself.
  3. Courage:  The word “courage” comes from the French root, “corage,” which means to face threat head-on. The successful change agent understands risk and adapts accordingly. She is also willing to face it head-on. When she must choose between what is expedient and what is right, she will always choose the latter. It may be difficult in the short-term, but it leads to greater results in the long run.

In my career I have had the opportunity to work with a few people like this. It is a rewarding, even exhilarating experience. They open much possibility. They create such positivity. They promote success. Who wouldn’t want this?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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