This is part 2 of a series on the need for both management and leadership. You can read the first post here.
While we often talk about the distinctions between leadership and management, I think we can learn just as much about how to be effective by distinguishing where they converge.
When we are working with others we don’t typically stop and say to ourselves (or others) – “now I am managing” and “now I am leading”. And even if we did would it really help us in that moment?
We just do what we see to do at the moment to accomplish whatever we need to accomplish – whether it is to complete a deliverable, produce a result, tend to a relationship or to someone’s future, etc. And if we accomplish what we set out to accomplish do we really care whether we were managing or leading?
And so is effective leadership.
The obvious common denominator of both is people and what connects people is communication. And that is where the skills of both converge.
Both managers and leaders must be great communicators to be effective.
The effectiveness of our communication is not measured by what we say or how we say it but rather by the impact our communication has on others. Whether we are leading or managing I think we must have our attention on 3 fundamental dimensions of the impact of our communication: Clarity, Connection and Certainty.
Below is a brief overview of why these are essential to our ability to manage and lead others effectively.
Clarity is power. It gives our communication power. In fact clarity is essential if we truly wish to be empowered or to empower others with our words and deeds.
That is not to say that we must be clear about everything all the time. Sometimes clarity means we are clear about some things, and we are clear about what we are not clear about.
One place where the rubber meets the road when it comes to clarity is when it comes to making a request. The effectiveness of the person we make a request of depends on our ability to be crystal clear about what is needed, for what purpose and by when it is needed. This is not about micro managing. In fact I think clarity about what is really needed can help us to let go of micromanaging the details of how it gets done.
Want to raise the bar on the level of results possible and the level of ownership as well? Try making make clear, specific and direct requests, not just for people to carry out orders or complete activities, but for people to use the best of their thinking, skills and talents to deliver results.
We are all connected but we don’t always feel that way. Through communication we can help people to experience their connection to the bigger picture so they can find meaning. We can also help them to feel connected to others (including us) so they have the experience that they truly matter.
For example, while vision may typically fall into the category of leadership skills when we distinguish between the two, as a manager you also need to have a vision as well for at least what the end result needs to look like.
Without vision at the macro and micro level people can’t see how what they are doing connects to something larger. It is also very difficult to feel like your work is meaningful or that you matter when you don’t feel connected to something larger than the task at hand.
Connection also needs to be considered at the interpersonal level. When we communicate only to get the job done, we can leave people feeling like we don’t really care about them and/or send a message they don’t matter to us.
Human beings like to feel like they are on solid ground. As uncertainty increases so do our stress levels. One way to care for others whether we are managing or leading is to give them certainty whenever we can. I am not talking about promising things like job security.
Yet we can still provide certainty in other ways. For example, we can be mindful of sending consistent messages with our words and actions so people aren’t wondering which way the wind will blow today. We give people certainty when we share with them what we know for certain and what we do not know for certain, as well as what we can promise and what we cannot promise. Knowing that we are awake enough to provide this kind of clarity may not give them certainty in the future, but it does give them certainty in their relationship with us.
When circumstances are uncertain, knowing there are people we can really trust and count on is perhaps the only thing that can help us to experience a sense of being on solid ground.