Friday, December 29, 2023

To lead and to follow

A mark of effective leadership is recognizing that following advice, sometimes tactically off the main beam of your strategy, is not a weakness of leadership but rather an indicator of personal security and  strong character. 

About a leader somewhat infamous for stubbornness it was said:

Once again [our leader] had demonstrated his uncommon ability both to lead and to follow, to stand firm and to give way. This was the hallmark of his early years [of professional development] in the teeth of expectations that he would be professorially rigid and dogmatic. He made a point of treating [sponsors] with respect, as partners in a common cause

James MacGregor Burns

Over managing; under leading:

Sometimes confusion arises when leaders take the advice of managers -- the people who know how to get things done. Has leadership been submerged and management become dominate? Needless to say -- but I'll say it anyway -- management is focused on measurable results, metrics of performance, and predictability-reliability. 

We don't usually put a lot of measurable metrics around leadership. We know it when we see it: vision, inspiration, motivation, innovation. When present, these attributes drive business and organization success, and that is measurable. 

But when a leader loses their way, or has a mind-blank of vision, regression to management is often where they go. And you'll know it when you see it: an unusual, or even inappropriate, focus on management metrics.  In such situations your project is "management rich" and "leadership poor". 

What to do about it?

Task 1: Speak truth to power. Point out the slip, perhaps inadvertent, from leadership to management.
Task 2: Make leadership demands that will push your inadvertent manager back into the right sandbox.

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