The title leader can be given to anyone.
But the term leader and manager are worlds apart.
Most managers were promoted because of seniority or selected because of their technical prowess. Two of the many wrong reasons to become a manager.
Micromanagers are so rampant because the wrong skill sets are glorified. Individual performance isn’t a clear indicator of potential leadership. Using a sports analogy, the best player on a team isn’t automatically the MVP.
The difference between a secure leader and an insecure manager is encapsulated in the following statement:
How willing are they to implement other’s ideas?
Working with youth was my first introduction to leadership development. I remember planning a 6-week summer camp. I came prepared to share the weekly topics I felt were best, but then it hit me, “in order for the youth to feel empowered I should choose their agenda (ideas) over mine.”
At the time I thought it was a subtle gesture, but it turned out to be the difference between recruiting teenagers and developing young leaders. Because I let them choose the topics, they put way more effort, creativity and were much more motivated to run a great program.
Back to the sports analogy. Imagine you’re the coach of an individually talented team. You’d think your job is to throw your team out there and just let them figure it out. Although that’s not a bad strategy, the better one is to identify the strengths of each player, then put them in a system that allows them to shine in a customized role. The coach’s job is less about managing talent and more about governing egos. Leaders allow their people to thrive because they’re focused on eliminating distractions so they can maximize performance.
A manager’s role isn’t to puff his/her chest out trying to be the best. It’s about serving the people under them by trusting their ability to make the best decisions. In the age of infinite information what gets lost is people are your greatest asset, not data.
The simple act of hearing your team out and choosing their ideas over yours will increase morale and retention tremendously.
Why is this act so powerful?
Because it takes a secure leader to know he/she doesn’t need to be the smartest person in the room, only smart enough to empower the ones who make you look good.