From Manager to Leader
From Manager to Leader
Four functional principles can help you to attract, maintain motivate and manage followers.
J. Bradley Houser, MBA
As a supervisor, manager, administrator, physician, owner or any position of authority, one of your primary goals and duties is to lead. Every leader has at least one quality in common with every other leader — the indispensable need for followers. Regardless of his or her other qualities, attributes, strengths and weaknesses, no leader can lead without dedicated followers.
So how does a leader attract, maintain, motivate, manage and direct his or her followers? What qualities empower a leader and distinguish the quality of his leadership? Most of us start out with some type of management responsibility, where our first and primary goal is to modify the behavior of others. Successful management does not necessarily require great, or even good, leadership. You can manage someone or some group by modifying their behavior, but without gaining committed followers. Colin Powell once distinguished leadership from management this way:
“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”
Experience and Observation
From my years of playing team sports as a kid and young adult, and now with more than 40 years in the work force, I have observed and been subjected to the management and leadership skills of scores of others. In addition, I have had the responsibility of managing both small and large teams in a wide variety of settings and industries. Through this time, my behavior has been modified by many managers and I have been a follower of some exceptional leaders.
I have also been on the other side as a manager and a leader of others. I have learned a lot about the qualities that effectuate behavior modification in employees and those that effectively speak to followers to win their trust and allegiance.
A Progression of Qualities
For me, those qualities have a hierarchy and a progression to them. I divide them into 3 subsets that I categorize as Functional, Intellectual and Emotional. The functional are the most basic to management. They are effective behavior modifiers, and they can function as building blocks, establishing credibility and a foundation for recruiting followers.
Let’s look more closely at four functional principles that an effective manager applies routinely:
Oscar Wilde once said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Of course, imagination is not a requirement for effective management, and very few have looked to Wilde for management consulting expertise. Nonetheless, his implication about imagination is something to consider when we later discuss evolving from manager to leader. But as for consistency, I believe an effective manager must establish and maintain a consistent approach. Over time, this will ingrain desired habits in staff. Through a consistently applied management approach, the effective manager will have staff who are better able to anticipate what is expected of them.
This goes hand in hand with consistency. Certainly if you are trying to modify someone’s behavior, your communication had better be clear, or else what you get may not be the intended modification. For instance, when others perform below our expectations, it may be because our directions were not clear.
The more complex the issue at hand, the more important that you break the issue down into components that are easily understood. And when dealing with the unexpected, where the habits ingrained through consistency may not hold up, clarity of communication and of purpose is essential to a positive and predictable outcome.
3 Positive Reinforcement:
Building on the first two principles, when applied consistently and with clarity, positive reinforcement yields steady and lasting improvement in behavior. It is likely the most important functional motivator of behavior modification. Clarity comes best when the reinforcement is matched closely in time with the desired behavior. As famed football coach Bill Parcells put it, “Even small successes can be extremely powerful in helping people believe in themselves. When you set small, visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed.”
4 Careful Listening:
Obviously, it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn while you talk. Yet, much can be learned through the simple act of careful listening. And the dividends from listening do not stop with what you may learn. If staff perceive you as a sincere listener, you will have begun to build a bridge of trust that is essential for growing from a manager of employees into a leader.
Routinely and regularly applying these four functional principles is essential to successful management. In the next installment, we will begin to move from functional principles to the higher order intellectual and emotional principles. We will also move from the transactional environment of managers — that is, directing and motivating employees to perform with a desired set of behaviors — to leaders who guide followers by using their mutual emotional commitment as the driver. OP
||Mr. Houser is the Practice Administrator at St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute in Tarpon Springs, Fl. He received his an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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