I was with Michael, one of my business coaching clients. He is a CEO of a multinational company and has a team of 100 employees. Currently, he is facing an issue where he doesn’t have enough leaders in his business.
At the start of our conversation, we started discussing what is best: leadership compared to management. Keep reading if you want to know who the winner is…
In many of the mid- sized companies that work with us, we have found that 7-8 of them don’t have a proper leadership group in place.By saying leadership group, I’m not talking about management which you will see in the two situations I am about to talk about.
So let’s look at two situations: Jordan and Susan, and work out whether leadership or management is better.
To put it into context, Jordan works for a different company compared to Susan, and each company has a different culture and leadership in place. Jordan, similar to Susan, has gone up through the ranks. They started at the bottom as a technician, and as she worked her way up, she came into a management position. When she came into the role, she had no training in place and she came in working with her colleagues and her existing peers. This is because she had gone up through the ranks, and she had to step up in her authority just to show where she was.
She was barking out orders, she was feeling frustrated because her peers didn’t seem to like it and respond well to her orders, on top of this, she was really bad at providing feedback.
On the other side, you have Susan who has been groomed into becoming a leader within the organisation. Like Jordan, she came through the ranks, was a technician, but along the journey, her previous managers, who were also leaders, gave her opportunities to lead the team in various parts of her department. Susan revelled in taking all these opportunities because she saw it as an opportunity to sharpen her leadership skills that she’s been working on throughout her own University years.
For Susan, leadership was always important, she always liked to read books about leadership and she would always value leadership. The whole reason why she joined her current company was because they have a leadership program in place.When Susan was offered the opportunity, she felt ready to lead a team of people. The fact that she had opportunities in the past to lead them already, her whole group of colleagues were already familiar with her leadership style and they were quite comfortable with it.
Susan felt a lot of rapport with her team, she knew how to support them, she knew how to guide them and how to provide the right direction to them.
The way she provided direction to the team was to work in collaboration and in tandem with them as one collective unit. As a result, she never really had to bark orders, but more to get the team together, to collaborate, to praise them together and work out what is a direction as a unit. Once the direction was set, and everybody was on board with that, it’s a whole lot of easier for her to lead her team towards that. All she had to do was to provide support during her time as a new leader where it was necessary so that her team could perform.
Susan was also extremely good about empowering her team, she knew every single team member within the team, she knew them really well and knew them on a personal and professional basis. She knew what made every single team member tick, and she knew how to get the best out of them.
So, compare Jordan to Susan; this is the difference between having Jordan, which is more a traditional managerial style, she’s the boss and you need to listen to me. Compared to Susan who is more of a leadership-type of manager; where she works on understanding her own people, people come first in her mind.
She knows how to support and empower her team so that she could get the best out of them.
At the end of the whole session, I asked Jason “who do you think was at fault? Was it Jordan or Susan?” Like Michael said, definitely Susan, but perhaps Jordan was at fault.
I stopped him and I said “hey, Michael, I think this is where things are a little bit mistaken. Quite often, people at the top always think that it’s the managers are not performing, but quite often, in Jordan’s case, it wasn’t her fault. She was motivated as a technician in the company, she was great at what she was doing, she saw the opportunity, wanted to serve the company and wanted to do well. But she didn’t have the leadership skills to take the group to the next level to get them to work as a collective unit, to perform as one unit and head toward the one direction, all working toward the same goal.”
It’s not because of anything Jordan didn’t do, it was more because she didn’t have the experience required as a leader to lead her team. In that moment, it finally clicked in Michael’s mind that it was quite important for him to set up a leadership-training program in his organisation.
Set up a leadership training program
In order to help him with that, we set up three activities for him to start working on, three key stations that will help him to put a leadership group together and empower them. So that they, in turn, can go and empower their own direct reports.
The very first step, as you can guess, is to identify the pool of leaders within his organisation.That is, identify people, within his team, that had the potential to become a leader.
Following this, I asked Jason to take a leadership assessment form, if you want a copy of this, just type in “leadership” in the comments section below and I’ll forward you a copy, like I did with Jason.
With the people he identified, Michael’s task was to get them to fill in the leadership assessment form that will give those identified people- the short list of people- an opportunity to self-assess themselves in regards to leadership. Then based on this both Michael and I have a look and identify the first lot of leaders that we can get together and start training them into the future leaders of the company.
The second thing we started putting together is a leadership training program that is customised for Michael’s team.Within this, I’ve identified the top five books that the first group of leaders need to start reading together and collaborating, sharing insight.
The third item is to establish a coaching program; a coaching program for his leaders. Michael agreed with this because once they have these new insights- once they are trained as leaders of the company, both Michael and I agree that they were going to experience quite a number of challenges. These occur as they implement leadership insights and leadership activities that have been provided in the training program.