The Manager verses Leader conversation has to stop!

The ongoing belief that there is a need to define the skills a manager verses leader needs to utlise is outdated and has to stop. A high performing leader is the one that can access the right tool at the right time without some sort of limiting metaphorical line.

I am surrounded by leadership development day in and day out. It is what I do! I read books, listen to webinars and scour the Internet to ensure my knowledge and skills are the best they can be. Each time I “digest” information by “experts” that draws a line between the skills of a leader and those of a manager, I drop my head just a little and slowly shake it in disbelief. I cannot believe that we are still having this outdated conversation.

I am not saying that the skills that they identify are outdated, rather the thought that particular skills be aligned to certain positions or people is.

The world is fast…

The work world is a fast-paced and dynamic beast, full of unforeseen obstacles requiring highly effective leaders to adapt and change rapidly and in doing so call upon whatever skills are best suited for the situation. Access to all skills should be encouraged without perceived cultural barriers restricting options.

I am lucky enough to coach a number of CEO’s working in global organisations. These people are passionate, focused and highly skilled. Spending extended periods of time with them during their workdays provide a unique opportunity to observe them predominately using skills and strategies that would easily be defined as managerial or boss type skills by our ‘experts’. Does this mean they are not good leaders?

As their coach should I encourage them not to use these as a senior leader? Of course not! These are incredibly successful people doing amazing work in highly successful organisations. They need to be able to access instantly any skills that best suit the situation they find themselves.

We need to rethink the way we approach the skill set of leaders and in doing so enhance the ‘toolbox’ of skills they can draw upon. All levels of leaders should aim to build and sustain high performing empowered teams.

How this looks for a C- Level leader will be different to that of a frontline leader although the skills required to build each of these teams could and should be the same. Arguably, there is a place for manager/boss type skills in building teams and to indicate at any level that they are off limits to leaders is absurd.

It is time to educate and support leaders to have the skills and the confidence to draw upon any skill or strategy required to allow them to build strong, empowered and high performing cultures without placing metaphorical boundaries on them.

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