I work in the area of leadership development. I am surrounded by it day in and day out. I read books, listen to webinars and scour the Internet to ensure my knowledge and skills are the best they can be. Each time I ingest information by ‘experts’ that draws a line between the skills of a leader and those of a manager, I drop my head just a little and slowly shake it in disbelief. I cannot believe that we are still having this outdated conversation.
The notion that particular skills be aligned to certain positions or people is obsolete.
The work world is a fast paced and dynamic beast, full of unforeseen obstacles that require highly effective leaders to adapt and change rapidly and in doing so call upon whatever skills are best suited for the situation. Access to all skills should be encouraged with out perceived barriers restricting options.
I am lucky enough to coach a number of CEOs who work in global organisations – they are passionate, focused and highly skilled individuals. Spending extended periods of time with them during their work days provides a unique opportunity to observe them using skills and strategies that would be defined as managerial by our ‘experts’. Does this also preclude them from being good leaders? As their coach should I encourage them not to use these managerial skills as a senior leader? Of course not! These are incredibly successful people doing amazing work in highly successful organisations. They need to be able to instantly access any skills that best suit the situation in which they find themselves.
We need to rethink the way we approach the skill set of leaders, and in doing so enhance the toolbox of skills they can draw upon. All levels of leaders should aim to build and sustain high performing and empowered teams. How this looks for a C- level leader will be different to that of a front line leader, although the skills required to build each of these teams could, and should, be the same.
It’s time to remove the metaphorical boundaries and support our leaders to draw upon any skill or strategy that allows them to build strong, empowered and high performing cultures.