Monthly Archives: December 2011

You can lead a horse to water… but can you manage him to drink?

Sometimes it’s semantics (words, language), and sometimes it’s some antics (behaviour).

I recently responded to a blog post about the contrasts and comparisons between leaders and managers. We have all encountered both species in our working lives and personal lives. My premise is that it’s about the behaviour, not the label.

What did I say? Let’s tune in…

While I agree that theoretically, there are significant differences in the roles of leaders and managers, there are, as pointed out by many of you, times when leaders have to be managers as well, and vice versa.

Often when there is a need, a time or a circumstance for leading or for managing, it doesn’t matter whether the “Hello! I’m __________” name tag we slap on someone’s lapel says, “Hello! I’m a Manager”, or “Hello! I’m a Leader”.

In today’s world, unfortunately these labels have become interchangeable.

I think the comparisons and contrasts are not between managers and leaders, but, rather, between managing vs leading.

It’s not about your title, it’s what you do with it.

It’s about leading with integrity to get to a desired outcome in a way that has a positive impact on the team, the organization and your reputation.

Makes me think of the Margaret Thatcher quote posted on twitter earlier by @Leadershipfreak: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

Leading is self-evident — you don’t have to tell anyone you’re doing it, because it shows.

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Fear, Change and Choosing to Do it Differently

article outlining tips for managing women in the 1940s, which today seem outrageous and funny

I laughed when I read this. I mean, you HAVE to laugh. Right?? It’s funny!

Then I started to think about this…

I know… uh oh! Her fingers are hovering over the keyboard…

I guess back in the day, men were doing their best to figure things out in the workplace. Sadly, I don’t think they made it very far. Maybe it was due to narrow-minded, misogynistic views of the time. Or maybe it was just good, old-fashioned fear: fear of change, fear of being challenged and not having the answers, fear of losing territory, fear of “not being a man” (whatever THAT used to mean!).

My mind went immediately to those nature shows, where the narrator is speaking in hushed, golf commentator-type tones… “And now, we see the female human sitting at her desk. She completes her tasks confidently. When colleagues approach, notice how she nods, to indicate understanding and agreement in speaking with them. How big is her brain, that it absorbs all of this complicated business information? While in this concrete environment, she gets her nutrition from a lunch that she got ready for herself that morning, part of her self-care routine. She will later need to expend the energy of a distance runner as her day continues well into the evening, foraging for food on her way home, cooking a meal for her herd in their natural habitat, ensuring their safety and comfort. Amazing. What else, we must ask ourselves, is she capable of? Will she climb the corporate ladder despite the physical and emotional demands of bearing and raising children? Will she run for political office to make the world a better place? Will she make medical discoveries? WAIT!! What about the men??”

Here’s the thing. There’s room for everyone. It’s a big, abundant universe. All we have to do is ditch the whole matriarch/patriarch, male/female role crap from the past that doesn’t serve us anymore, and, whether you’re a man or a woman, take in the beautiful, panoramic view of choices, options, and limitless possibilities to think differently, have differently, do differently and be differently.

From where I sit, I think society in general is still trying to figure “it” out. (BTW, “trying” means “not doing” – stay tuned, I’ll explain this another time with Yoda’s help.) Not much to figure out, if you ask me. It’s about give and take. Playing nice in the sandbox. Being aware. Being accepting. Acknowledging that each person sees things based on his or her own filters (memories, fears, experiences, skills, beliefs). Trusting our selves. Focusing on what we know we can have if we only take the steps to get there. Making informed choices.

It’s not rocket science.
(Unless you’re a rocket scientist.)

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