Many people aspire to be a manager in the working world of today but what we really need are leaders. If you want to be a leader of people and not just manage them there are a number of characteristics that you should seek to attain and practice. The late and great management guru Warren Bennis once said “To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in a direction, course, action, opinion. The distinction is crucial”.
So how can you be a leader and not just a manager?
1. Be an Innovator and not an Administrator
First of all, administration is important at work and you should be good at making sure all the rules are followed. After all it is important to maintain inventories and accounts and meet the needs of your clients and customers. But why not try doing these same things in a slightly different way. That’s what innovators are all about. They welcome, encourage and celebrate change. They see the possible risks but they are willing to try something new in order to get the reward. Innovators have passion and drive and they know that innovation doesn’t happen by itself, that it needs teamwork and commitment and a sense of adventure.
2. Be an Originator and not an Imitator
The people who are first to do anything are almost always subject to criticism, critique, and even ridicule for their new ideas. But somehow they find the courage to step out there in their short skirt or long hair or suggest that maybe people would like to use the Internet to socialize and share with their friends. People who not only step out of the mold but start creating their own mold, especially at work easily attract people towards them. We want to see what they going to do next and we will follow them because what they’re doing is new and exciting. Originators like Mark Zuckerberg are natural leaders because we know they are leading us to a better place.
3. Be a Long Range Thinker and not take the Short Term View
In his book, “The Unheavenly City Revisited”, Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard found that a person’s time perspective or how far a person projected into the future largely determined their financial and career success. Thinking long term means having a vision for your life or career, goals that you want to achieve and a plan to get there. People with a plan are must better leaders and much easier to follow that someone who is focused on just the problems or situations of today. That’s why long range thinkers become generals in the army of Grand Masters in chess. They know how to plan ahead and they know how to win.
4. Be Someone who asks What and Why and not How and When
The functional manager in our workplace gets things done. That’s their motto and they’re sticking to it! But by only focusing on how much is getting done and when it will happen they are actually limiting themselves, and those that they supervise. A much better question to ask is what are we doing and the best question of all is to ask why we are doing certain things in the first place? When and how just give you information. What and why may actually give you an answer. Some people call these questions, wisdom access questions because they unlock the ideas that are hidden in our brains and release that wisdom. That’s what true leaders do in the workplace.
5. Be Someone who Does the Right Thing and not just Does Things Right
There is nothing wrong with doing something the right way. And there is always a right and a wrong way to do things. But a leader assumes that we know that without being told and they don’t spend their energy on that. Instead they always looking for better way, a different way, to do things. We all know intuitively what the right thing to do is in a difficult situation. But many times we shirk our responsibilities because there might be a risk or someone might get mad with us if for example we give a refund when someone isn’t happy with a product or service. Being a leader means taking your head out of your turtle shell and handing over the money, even if that might be bending the rules and even if you get in trouble for it, because that is simply the right thing to do.
This article first appeared on WorkAwesome.com
Mike Martin is the author of the Windflower Mystery Series and “Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People”. For more information please visit http://www.changethethingsyoucan.wordpress.com