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Manager vs. Leader - Showcase of Ideas Speaker 2013
One of the greatest things about leadership development is that it applies to anyone, at any level, in any industry and though we toss around the terms “leader” and “manager” all week long in organizational life, many times, unless we “own” one of those titles, we discard the powerful impact we can make.
Surely, “managers” have a unique role and function, as do “leaders” and though similar, they differ in scope and most importantly, mindset.
Time to throw tradition out the window and talk about these two concepts as active mindsets that we organically come by from a very early age; mindsets that are often subconscious preferences and responses to all aspects of life and color our approach to tasks, style, methods, preferences, everything.
Looking at “managers” and “leaders” as a mindset rather than a role may seem farfetched and an even bigger stretch when I say that we evolve into either one or the other or a mixture of the two that I call an “integrated” mindset. How can we only be one of three personality types? Well, we aren’t…in this respect, we are resting somewhere on a scale.
Replace the words “manager” and “leader” and instead use the terms a “details” mindset vs. a “big picture” mindset and see if it makes more sense. Whether through nature or nature or a little bit of both, we approach life as someone who either makes sense of our world through details, tasks, organization and perfecting the comfort zone or we move through our world doing, well, just the opposite.
Compare these styles:
Details mindset people are organically fairly skilled at time management and organization. They appreciate structure and sticking to a schedule. They tend to perform at their best when they are fully in the “know” of what is expected of them. They are punctual, managers of someone else’s risk, constantly perfecting their piece of the puzzle and are not fans of distraction. Having all these things line up in a row support them in performing at their best, allowing confidence and stability.
Big Picture mindset people may not come by time management and organization easily; they are able to work off of lists in their head and can quickly connect ideas and concepts. They are people connectors and enjoy a bit of structure but prefer to know what can and cannot be done and then “wing it” in between. They naturally push themselves out of their comfort zone and can get easily distracted. They are looking at tomorrow more frequently than they are focused on today. Having all these things at their disposal support them in performing at their best, allowing confidence and a feeling of forward motion.
An Integrated mindset is someone who is learned to adopt the habits and strengths of things they were not organically good at in order to be more efficient in their lives. Work and life experience contribute to the level of integration.
Why does this matter? At first glance, it may not mean much but as you dive deeper into the concept behind this, it is obvious that it greatly affects the way people interact. A details or “manager” mindset person, when learning a directive, feels much more comfortable knowing all the details of the expectations and outcomes while a big picture thinker or “leader” mindset gets bored with too much detail and starts to feel creativity and innovation become threatened. Now, use that example in an organizational setting where we are all sliding on the leader vs. manager mindset scale and need each other to get things done-it can create empowered results or….frustration and misunderstanding.
The first step to mastering this concept is knowing where you fall on the scale by taking the Mindset Evaluator, an assessment that is geared to help you quickly define your organic “umbrella” style. Once you get a sense of where you fall and what it means, you will begin to quickly assess those around you-by adjusting your communication style to fit the dynamic you are implementing sophisticated leadership strategy and enhancing group relations and results. And for that, you deserve a raise-tell your Big Picture mindset boss that I said so!
Allison McClintick, M.A., is a leader development specialist and CEO of FLIGHTLEAD. She has a master’s degree in leadership studies/organizational leadership from the University of San Diego, a certificate in decision quality from Stanford University and has been extensively trained and certified by the Center for Creative Leadership.
Allison will be the keynote speaker at the 2013 Destination Michigan Showcase of Ideas on Nov. 6, 2013, at Eagle Eye Golf Club, Lansing. Click here for more information and to register.
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Michael Burke, CMP, The Hanover Insurance Group