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Leadership: the difference that makes the difference

Posted by: Joyce Matthews   |   No Comments   |  Posted on: Sep 10, 2014

leader and managerLeader or a manager – which one are you? What would your staff say? Which title would your colleagues choose for you? What do you want to be remembered as?

We’ve all seen the pictures and infographics listing the differences between the roles and the jobs, highlighting the contrasts, stressing the positive and the positively mundane.

But do you know what the real difference between leaders and managers is – the difference that makes the difference?

It’s not what you think.

It’s not what you know, or how many qualifications you have, or long you’ve been in the job, or your competence with Excel spreadsheets or how you interpret all the data you have at your fingertips, or how neat your paperwork is.

It’s something you can’t measure or analyze or list.

Quite simply, it’s beliefs; it’s what leaders believe about themselves, others and the world around them.

But the thing about beliefs is that we can’t overtly see or hear them, and unless we specifically ask someone what their beliefs are then it’s difficult to tell what a leader actually believes.

Unless of course you do this.

Listen and watch their words and actions; the things we can see which communicate beliefs.

You know that everything you do and say either affirms leader or mumbles manager – you cannot not communicate – and words and behaviours you choose are the difference between inspiring and empowering, and administrating and controlling.

Look at the lists – make your own comparisons.

 The language and action of leadership is much easier to identify and breakdown into discrete teachable skills than the unseen beliefs and unconscious thinking patterns of leaders. It’s much easier to teach leadership from the outside in rather than accumulating information and qualifications in the hope it will change beliefs. It’s much easier to teach skills to change beliefs rather than to try to change beliefs in the hope that it will improve skills and performance.

So what if your organization’s leadership development focused  more on leadership communication and behaviours than on leadership knowledge; more on leadership skills than on leadership styles and theories, more on practical mastery than on professional memory?

Think of the difference it could make to you, your staff, and your organization.

Great leaders do the right thing; they help others to develop the skills they need to grow into the people they believe they can be.

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