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The More I Lead, the Less I Have to Manage

Updated: Aug 28, 2021

The difficulties of leading and managing center on the ability to have those around you self-reliant and focused on consistently accomplishing our shared mission. Often, we resort to 'management' or 'management tactics.' That means we tell people what to do and we 'manage' instead of finding ways for all of us to want to win together.

Management isn't a bad word, it is just a poor substitute for leadership. Leadership helps accelerate your effort to build leaders, build teams, and build successes.

We've noticed five areas that are the enemies of leadership value and drive more management:

  • Lacking alignment. Failing to get alignment from the team involved. A car with four tires can look like they are all headed the same direction, but when you try to go 100 miles an hour, you might get a pretty rough ride. Similarly, without alignment on the team, we won't break any speed or growth records and the ride may be painful. Achieving a common goal driven by alignment can be life-changing for those involved.

  • Cultivating fear. When we bring fear into the workplace - and it can creep in easily - we invite in the enemy of production. People living in fear focus on avoiding risks, trying new things, and being responsible. Fear can also come by over-direction, by trying to manage everything. Decentralizing and allowing people to be creative, successful and win is huge. Failing forward can be a pretty fun place to be - but if failing always means a 'beat down," fear is going to be rampant.

  • Lack of fun. Managers often underrate the value of fun in the workplace. Not the crazy, zany fraternity party kind of fun, but the kind where you are learning, succeeding, growing, and accomplishing kind of fun. That requires a leader impact that focuses in on how to help people grow and flourish - not a constant barrage of directions and mandates. When work becomes fun, barriers evaporate.

  • Stealing the thunder. Taking credit for what your team accomplished is a management fool's game. Giving credit liberally helps your team find their value, helps reduce fear, and promotes all kinds of fun. Sometimes the theft of "thunder" comes in small barely perceptible containers that build anxiety and animosity over time. A simple phrase like, "It's a good thing I asked you to...." is sign of thunder being stolen. Great leaders avoid the credit for anything - they don't need it. Instead, they thrive on those around them accomplishing great things.

Every leader can find ways to improve and better connect with their formal and informal team groups. And regardless of role or title - leaders can come from anywhere - all of us can help drive a team that has the ability to accomplish greatness.

What can I do today to be a better leader? We suggest you start by going through the five points in this post and honestly assess how you well you avoid these. For us, the more we lead our team, the less we have to manage.

Walt Disney is credited with saying, "Sometimes it's kind of fun to do the impossible." For great leaders, that's possible any day of the week.

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