Leading people has nothing to do with managing them. In fact, we preach to our clients about the distinction between leading people and managing tasks. Unfortunately, far too many managers try to micro-manage their staff, all the while forgetting to lead them effectively. For the most part this is due to the fact that organizations have not done a good job of leadership development. They have tended to promote great individual contributor talent into leadership roles without teaching, coaching and mentoring them on how to become great leaders.

Every new leader should have a leadership development plan in place that focuses on improving the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with leadership. We see the same scenario play out all the time. A great individual contributor gets promoted and they concentrate on what they know how to do best…individual contributor work! There’s a sharp learning curve to leadership that causes too many new leaders to fail. That’s mainly due to the fact that they’re not being taught how to shift their focus from themselves to the success of their team.

If you want to become a strong leader you need to lead by example. This is where accountability comes into the leadership equation. It means you have to show your team that you are perfectly capable of being able to set examples. By doing so you will earn their respect and create lifelong devotees who would move mountains to please you.

Conversely, a manager who hides behind his or her office door while commanding staff likely isn't going to gain much respect in the work place. Front line leaders need to be aware of the impact that they have on employee engagement. Typically, 70 to 80% of organizations employees are individual contributors that report to a front line supervisor. It’s the relationship these people have with their boss that determines how engaged, and how productive they are.

Ultimately the success of any business venture lies in the hands of its employees and NOT the managers. A manager's responsibility is to organize and manage business systems, systems that will contribute to the successful finalization of projects. It’s important to note that its people and not the system that delivers performance. Your role as their leader is to ensure that the talent available to you is aligned with the organization’s strategic plan.

If the members of your staff are not engaged it will soon show in their lack of productivity. This will influence your bottom line. Chances are customer complaints will start to amass and office gossip will run hot. This is counterproductive to running a well oiled machine – your business. Ask yourself how much time you spend leading and influencing people versus managing tasks. Do you facilitate innovation, creativity and resourcefulness in your people or are you a task focused and driven organizational bottleneck?

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