Managers or Leaders?

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From Kevin’s Blog on Leadership, by Kevin Eikenberry

“Manager or Leader? People sometimes ask me, ‘Should I be a manager or a leader?’ My answer is ‘yes.’

There are management books and leadership books, management courses and leadership courses. There are people who call themselves managers, and those who call themselves leaders.

The manager/leader question isn’t an either/or question; it is a both/and question. Greater management skills make leaders more effective and managers will be more effective when they exercise the skills of great leaders.

Rather than trying to discriminate these skills, let’s look at both sides of the coin for some competencies:

  • A manager thinks short term, tactically, a leader has a longer term, more strategic focus.
  • A manager plans how and when, a leader asks ‘what?’ and ‘how?’
  • A manager looks at the bottom line, a leader looks to the horizon.
  • A manager knows the business, a leader knows the Customer.
  • A manager focuses on improving existing products and processes, a leader focuses on the new product and the breakthrough process.
  • A manager supervises, a leader influences.
  • A manager builds success through quality, a leader builds success through employees.
  • A manager sets standards of performance, a leader sets new standards.

You can read each pair as one thing is better than the other, but I’d encourage you instead to see the value in both sides of the coin. We need tactics and strategy, we need improvements and innovation.

I could further define the manager/leader coin with more competencies, but these should be plenty to get you started.Think about both sides of this coin – think manager and leader.”

When High Performers Are High-Maintenance

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From California Job Journal, “Working Wounded“, by Bob Rosner

“DEAR WW: I have a great performer who is also a pain in the rear end. How do you deal with a high-maintenance employee? TOUGH JOB.

DEAR TOUGH: A friend of mine had a Fiat sports car. He said that Fiat stood for ‘fix it all the time.’ But it was worth some trouble for him to drive a high-performance car. At the same time, I had a beater that constantly broke down and wasn’t worth the trouble.

Individuals can be like that, too. There are high-performance employees who are worth a certain amount of hassle, and other workers who aren’t worth any. I’ll help you sort out how to deal with the top performers below. For more, check out High-Maintenance Employees by Katherine Graham Leviss (Sourcebooks, 2005).

Are they worth it? There is no politically correct way to say this. The person’s performance must produce more results than hassles. It sounds like that is the case with your employee, but you always need to start by asking the simple question: Is this person worth it?

Give them as much control as possible. Most bosses give their employees a lot of responsibility and precious little authority. This is not lost on a top-performing employee. It can be scary to relinquish control, so here is a simply strategy – start by giving them a little bit of control. If they handle it well, then give them more.

Feed their need to compete. Top performers often have a competitive streak. They want to compete and they want to win. You can turn this to your advantage by putting them in situations where their competitive drive works to your advantage. For example, give them access to information that allows them to monitor their performance, like sales data. Top performers will use this information to drive themselves to new heights.

Let them set new goals. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who fall asleep at work because their goals are so easy to reach. Don’t turn around, however, and set unattainable goals. Rather, sit down with each person and make goal-setting a conversation to which you both contribute. You’ll be surprised at how high most of your people will set their own goals, if given the chance.

Reward performance with prestige, position and titles. Let’s face it, we all have egos. You might not be able to give people huge salary increases, but there is a lot you can do by giving them better titles, access to new perks, etc.

Pay them a fair wage for their contributions. Prestige goes only so far. At the end of the day you have to pay people fairly.

Use these suggestions to get your people firing on all cylinders and your company will stay in the fast lane.”