Updated: Nov 2, 2022
What separates leaders from managers? Well, lots, but one thing for certain: authenticity. In my many years of doing leadership development work in many different types of organizations, one thing I’ve noticed, especially with younger, new “leaders” is this effort by more senior “leaders” to pigeon-hole people into one style or approach. For example, statements like, “you need to use active (rather than passive) language,” “you need to be more directive,” and/or “you need to take control of the situation,” are often touted as “the right way to tackle a situation.” The problem with this all of these approaches is that they require that you become someone you’re not.
As my friend Des likes to say, “we all come with factory-settings,” (see module seven: Personality Styles & Preferences for more on our natural styles), as such we function in unique ways. To expect that we change our style, approach, even our innate personality, is well, managerial.
This inhibits our leadership capacity in a few ways:
Demanding, directing, and telling are managerial by nature. Management is about accomplishing tasks with little regard for people
Expecting you to be someone that you’re not, makes you now “managed” because someone is telling you how to behave
Once we start “managing” we’ve lost the personal connection to our team members, as such we inhibit reciprocal dialogue that is key to leading.
Aside from making those personal connections with those we lead, working in a manner that is inconsistent with who we are can be very exhausting. In addition, it creates personal disharmony that leads to further stress and unhappiness! Don’t look to emulate others. You are a unique individual with gifts of your own and keep us in balance. Just be you, your authentic self.