There is a crucial difference between being a great manager and being a great leader. When I picture a manager, I think of someone who goes around telling his or her employees how to think, act, and breathe. The manager uses a division labor system that divvies up the tasks for each person as if they are mindless drones, a hive of busy bees doing the bidding of a Queen Bee. The leader, in contrast, gets down in the dirt, does what they need to do, and leads by example.
I believe being a great leader is like being a great parent. Like a parent, a leader must support their team emotionally and mentally.
A leader needs to provide emotional support. This does not mean that they literally have to be a shoulder to cry on (leave that to your core emotional support group). Instead, a leader must show that they are open to compromise. Being an emotionally available leader means being an emotionally flexible one. This means that leaders must be willing to see from each individual’s unique point of view. Everyone has something to bring to the table, whether they are the top executive, a middle manager, or the intern who waters your plants and fetches your coffee. Each of these individuals have different sets of skills, strengths, and weaknesses which add a rich variety to your work environment which you must both respect and go out of your way to seek to understand.
In many ways, this is like being a parent. While a parent cannot be there for their child 24/7, especially as the child grows older, the parent should, from the very beginning, establish that they are there as a figure that can be emotionally supportive. A great parent, like a great leader, helps others realize that they are never completely alone.
A leader must be willing to challenge themselves and others around them mentally. To keep ideas fresh and flowing, a leader needs to encourage others to bring their very best to the table. A leader must encourage a creative environment. A creative and innovative environment can flourish if every person feels confident in their ability to be authentic. Employees must be able to feel like that can be, for the most part sans certain private, R-rated /NC-17 habits, 100% themselves in the workplace. Employees should be able to live authentically and work genuinely.
Like being a parent, a leader should encourage learning. Employees should be able to keep up-to-date with the world around them. Leaders should reward and appreciate employees who are willing to go above and beyond to better themselves. When employees seek to expand their horizons, this adds fresh perspectives to an environment that may otherwise become stale.
@AlphaFemSociety tweets by @Bobellerz