In business, there are implementers, managers, and leaders.
Implementers are those who, by definition, do things. They are that essential pool of variously talented individuals who ensure the numbers are crunched, the marketing is designed and carried out, and the legal documents are in place, for instance. They are the frontline team of customer service, and the behind-the-scenes team of internet technology. Strategically developing an implementation team, where strengths are sought and allowed to be used to their maximum effect, creates a very strong foundation for an organization.
Managers are those who, obviously, manage. The job of a manager is to coordinate implementation efforts for their respective teams. They are not more important to an organization than the implementers; they simply operate from a different perspective (both of which are needed). Managers are about systems and processes, and essentially ensure the efforts of the implementation team work together in a cohesive whole.
Leaders in an organization operate from a third and even broader perspective – an organization-wide perspective. This allows them to see the big picture of efforts as a whole and to ensure alignment with the long-term objectives and goals they have established for the organization.
All of this sounds pretty simple, right? The perfect match of skills and a plan that ensures each individual’s strengths are applied to the bigger picture vision and goals.
But, as they say, “Houston, there may be a problem.”
Problems arise when leaders try to be managers.
Why is this a problem?
It is because the greatest job of leaders is not to manage the work of the team, but to BUILD the team that does the work. The ultimate goal of a leader is to BUILD and GROW other leaders. And you can’t do that if you are doing all the work (being an implementer) or managing the day-to-day activities (manager).
Your job as a leader is to build and grow a management team that can lead in each of their respective areas.
Why is this important?
This ensures the work gets done.
We leaders like to think things could not run without us. The fact is, if we have done our jobs well, things can certainly run without us. Very often, when we get too involved in the operations, we actually slow down the process.
This empowers your management team to lead.
It equips your team to make decisions to a certain level, which, again, keeps the organizational wheels turning at top efficiency. It also serves to strengthen the decision-making ability of your management team.
This allows you to invest in the company’s most important asset.
The most important asset to a company are the individuals who make it work. If you as a leader make time to invest in other leaders, this broadens your scope of influence considerably. This allows those individuals to invest in their respective teams as you would if time were not a limitation.
This creates a built-in succession plan.
As Baby Boomers reach retirement age at an ever-increasing rate, succession planning becomes an essential component of business continuity. If you as a leader have done your job of developing other leaders, there will be a solid leadership component going forward. Failure to do so could come at great cost to the bottom line you have built and so fiercely protected.
- Leaders creating other leaders creates legacy.
I’m reminded of the funeral of a CFO, who was widely respected across the organization she served for decades. Known for her candor, loved for her genuine concern for all, and respected for her dedication and skill, she influenced implementers, managers, fellow leaders, and directors by creating in them a great sense of value for their leadership in each position they held. She left behind a highly profitable legacy – a world-renown company that, despite economic downturns, was growing and debt free. But her greatest investments were in those individuals she empowered to lead with their respective strengths.
6. If you are doing the work, or managing the work, you cannot grow the work beyond a certain point.
How do you know you are doing your job as a leader?
Simply look around you and ask yourself some tough questions.
- Do you spend your day doing, managing, or leading and developing other leaders?
- Is the work getting done efficiently?
- Are those you mentored leading – making decisions and solving problems within specified parameters? Or are they coming to you to solve every problem and make every decision?
- As leaders retire, do you have strong leaders on the ready to fill the vacant positions?
- Do you feel a sense of legacy – that you have invested your life and career not only in building a strong organization, but in building strong people?
For more resources on leading for growth in your organization, click here for your complimentary copy of the Leading for Growth Ebook by business growth and development expert, Deb Ingino.