In my numerous interactions with professionals across various fields, I often pose a question that invariably elicits agreement from everyone: “Have you ever had a bad manager or leader in your career?”
It’s always a 100% resounding “yes!” The room fills with shared experiences and anecdotes of leadership gone awry.
However, when I flip the question and ask, “How many of you consider yourselves to be bad managers or leaders?” the room falls into silence (with a few chuckles), punctuated by puzzled looks and hesitancy. No hands are raised, no affirmations are voiced.
This stark contrast in responses sheds light on a pervasive disconnect in our perceptions of leadership. No one sets out with the intention of being viewed as a bad leader, yet the prevalence of such experiences suggests a gap between intention and perception.
What, then, separates exceptional leadership from mediocrity? The answer often lies in the misunderstanding and misapplication of the roles of a manager versus a leader. In this exploration, let’s delve into the nuances of this dichotomy, unravel the essence of real leadership, and offer actionable insights to guide the transition from being merely a manager to evolving into an incredible leader.
1. Understanding the Distinction: Manager vs. Leader:
A manager holds a title, but a leader holds respect. It’s really that simple. Those who rely solely on their titles to assert authority often find themselves justifying their roles and struggling to gain long-term respect. If you have to say you’re in charge, you’re not!
Phrases like “I am in charge here” are telltale signs of leadership that leans on position rather than influence. On the other end of the spectrum, leaders who avoid confrontation and seek friendship over respect may be “liked” but not truly respected. Striking the right balance is key to effective leadership.
2. Embracing Servant Leadership:
Servant leadership is about serving others and empowering them to reach their full potential. It involves self-responsibility, intuition, perseverance, and effective communication. Servant leaders prioritize the needs of their followers, foster trust, and create an environment conducive to growth and innovation. Understanding and embodying the principles of servant leadership can help leaders gain the respect and willingness of their followers. But this also requires an investment to understand what’s most important to each person that falls under your responsibility. We tend to lead based on our own bias and not what is required for that person.
3. Personalized Motivation:
Recognizing that everyone has unique challenges and communication styles is crucial. Servant leaders tap into the individual preferences of their followers to motivate them effectively. This involves active listening, empathetic communication, and tailored encouragement. There’s a simple trick you can use to uncover the unique needs of each person.
Focus on responding to comments and questions with additional curious questions. I mention “curious” because you’re not interviewing them nor do you want them to feel it’s an interrogation. Here’s an example: “I am really looking forward to growing within the organization.” Instead of just acknowledging this seemingly great comment, what does it mean? So, your response would be: “That’s amazing! Curious, tell me more about that?” Once they answer you can build on that with more direct questions to identify the reasons behind it. How do they define growth? What timelines? What outcomes would they like to see from the growth? You get the idea.
The more you uncover their dominant reason for growth you can create a plan for them. Not to mention you’ll understand their “why”…that’s the driving force behind real leadership.
By addressing the specific needs and aspirations of each team member, leaders can foster a sense of belonging and commitment, driving collective success.
4. Three Takeaways for Exceptional Leadership:
a) Cultivate Self-Responsibility: Strive for personal growth and well-being to better serve others. Tie back their own “why” to the job so it’s more than just showing up for a paycheck.
b) Harness Intuition and Perseverance: Develop a keen sense of intuition balanced with rational thinking. Let people know it’s okay to fail. Let them know to embrace perseverance, learn from failures, and adapt your approach to fulfill unmet needs.
c) Master Effective Communication: Communicate your vision clearly and listen actively. But many times that’s subjective. Remember that 55% of communication is body language and 38% is tonality. That’s huge in leadership because people need to feel your leadership. People are always watching what you’re doing and not doing. It may not be fair, but you’re being judged not on intent rather actions. So pay close attention to how you’re communicating non-verbally and how you “say things”.
Becoming an exceptional leader involves more than just holding a title; it requires a shift in mindset and approach. The most common trait I see working with successful leaders is the ability to adapt and adjust their leadership.
Your flexibility to meet your peers where they currently are is something most Leaders just are not capable of doing. By understanding the principles of true servant leadership and applying personalized motivation strategies, leaders can earn the respect and commitment of their followers. The journey from manager to servant leader is challenging but immensely rewarding, paving the way for a positive and impactful leadership experience.
Almost every “Professional Speaker” on the planet claims they’re number one in whatever topics they speak on. It’s not how many books you’ve written that matters, but rather what best practices you can transfer to the audience, based on a proven track record.
This is where Brian Parsley isn’t your ordinary presenter. He began his career selling door to door over 30 years ago. Since then he’s been a serial entrepreneur, building three highly successful organizations and selling two over the past two decades.
Brian is currently a managing partner in the global consulting firm, The Constance Group. His work has given him the opportunity to share his methodology and allowed him to use his gifts of teaching and speaking on an international platform on topics of sales optimization, building loyal customers, and leadership strategies that drive profits.
He teaches behavioral science around why people do what they do and how to manipulate challenging scenarios with good intent. His messages are powerful but filled with humor and stories so they resonate and can be recalled.
Fun fact, Brian has close to one million followers on TikTok doing fun pranks. He may be in his 50’s, but he’ll never lose his sense of humor.