Obsessed with Leadership

Don’t call me a manager! I’m a leader! That is a typical statement throughout many different organizations. From the NFL quarterback to the Officer in the Military, the last thing people want to be called is a good manager. But being a manager is not a bad thing. It is one of the most important roles in an organization. Management is the foundation of success for an organization, and without managers, organizations fail. Additionally, a great manager is frequently the best at growing into a great leader! Their management skills will give them credibility and trust in the organization, which are key to following a leader.
So why are we obsessed with leadership? Can we afford to ignore managerial skills to live in the illusion that we are developing leaders? Because management is the foundation of the organization, the appropriate approach to this problem is to teach management skills first and let those with natural leadership skills or tendencies identify themselves for further development. Pick the ones you want to groom to be leaders and give them leadership training on top of their management skills.
This article is not designed to discount leaders. Leaders are critical; leadership is the key to moving an organization forward, without leaders organizations stagnate and fail. The point of this article is to identify (and discredit) the growing narrative that leadership is the most important aspect of life in our large organizations. We certainly need leaders, but too often when it comes time to manage the pieces of the organization we are given authority over, we only have leadership theory to draw upon in practice. This leaves people vastly unprepared for even the most basic management positions. New managers struggle until they have suffered through years of trial and error until they figure out what works. And even when they find what works it is still far from superior management skills.
The solution is to know the different between management and leadership. Start talking about the importance of management skills. Have professional development seminars about increasing management skills. An easy one to start with is time management. Google that subject, learn about it, and then spread the message. Your organization will be much better off if we focus on how to be better managers and how to take care of your people, rather than insisting everyone can and should be a leader. We don’t need to teach everyone to be a leader. Not everyone is capable, nor do they desire it.
One last item to note: your position or rank does not make you a leader it simply makes you responsible. A leader uses deliberate actions to effect change or innovation and moves the organization towards its vision. A good leader is one who does this is a positive way, and towards a positive goal, a bad leader is one who does it in a negative way towards a negative goal. You may be ineffective as a leader, but you can still be a great manager, and that is treasured in every organization.

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