With the Olympics about to commence, I thought I might consider one of my favourite sports – rowing. Actually – Leadership and Rowing!

During the last twenty years, training for corporate or organisational leadership has focused on management skills. It was felt to be politically incorrect to teach characteristics that denoted great leaders of the past. We had, it was felt, passed beyond that concept and the modern boss was one of the boys. The term ‘leader’ was felt to be too authoritarian to be used.

And that was great – we had great managers and wonderful programmes designed to manage the organisation.

It was like a wonderful rowing boat! We were all part of the rowing team; our managers ensured that we were well fed; we had appropriate rest days and our schedule was carefully worked out to ensure that we were not overworked. During our rostered rowing sessions we were given a powerful drum beat to make sure that we all kept time and didn’t row too fast. It was a wonderfully team, cared for and cosseted.

Unfortunately, we kept rowing into rocks! No-one was charting the course; no-one was making the infinitesimal changes to ensure that we got to where it was we were going; in fact no-one actually knew where it was we were going.

While we had wonderful managers, what we lacked was a leader. A leader who could identify the ultimate destination – a leader who would be up the crow’s nest looking out for ice-bergs ahead.

What has now been recognised is that management, however necessary, is not leadership. So in what way does leadership and management differ?

The Key function of a Leader is to establish the basic vision, the purpose or mission of the organisation. It is the leader’s role to implement the overall strategy to achieve the goals.

The Key function of a Manager is to implement the vision. Managers organise resources and manpower to create action which achieves the leader’s vision and goal.

This distinction can often get blurred, and in many cases organisation can be over-managed and under-led. It is important to note that effective leaders often are good managers and vice versa, but the distinction between the two roles should be clearly noted.

There are three simple criteria which I believe identify Leadership:

· Leadership is a related concept – It can only exist in relation to others. Leadership cannot exist in isolation. If there is no-one to follow, then there can be no leaders.

· Leadership is a process. Leadership requires action; it cannot exist in a vacuum. In order to lead the leader must do something.

· Leadership requires persuasion – Today’s Leaders avoid the authoritarian approach and work to motivate others to change their behaviour in order to implement the plan.

While much research has concentrated on leadership style, recent studies now realise that an effective leader can often use more than one style of leadership. A well trained leader will not be bound by what is seen to be their natural style. The good leader recognises that different situations often need different styles of leadership and will respond accordingly.

Leadership is a skill which can be taught to anyone who has the wish to learn. Basically, there must be a will to lead, and not everyone is comfortable with that concept. Some people will not willingly put themselves in a leadership position and that is fine. They will have skills and traits that will make them indispensable to the team. Leadership must first come from a willingness to lead. Given that, anyone can be taught the model, and put it into practice in their organisation.

There is a difference between managing the organisation and leading it. Leadership means having the will to lead, getting the knowledge and skills to lead, making a vision to be followed and putting that vision into practice. We can all, if we choose, become effective leaders.

Michele @ Trischel

Trischel offers one hour presentations on Leadership; which are ideal for that team building training day. Contact us at info@trischel.com.au to discuss your requirements.

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