I was having lunch with an executive in my region. As we were continuing our conversation about developing leaders in his organization, he said, “Our managers are still mostly just looking for what they can find wrong.”
If you were to ask me to make a short list of kind people in my region, this executive would be near the top; then why this concern in his organization?
Personally I believe one issue may be the managers are just that … managers. They are not making the conscious, behavior changing distinction that you manage systems and you lead people. They are still trying to manage people. People don’t want to be managed, they want to be led.
My experience also tells me that these managers are not bad people. They are simply unconsciously competent at performing their management role in the manner they have learned. And I estimate their effectiveness is limited due to the perceived judgmental fashion in which they manage.
When there is a disconnect with the core of who you are, it allows varying sorts of doubts and disempowering questions to invade. This destroys your confidence and therefore sabotages your behavior. It becomes all too easy to find even the smallest thing wrong in what others are doing. This pushes people away rather than pull them along. This is managing people from a context of fear versus leading people from a foundation of confidence.
A Turning Point
For any change we desire to make, there are always basics important to discover. For a long while I’ve admired improvisational comedians. I was thrilled when I one day accidently learned one of their basics: Whatever happens to your character is okay. That put a vivid picture in my mind of how to describe an individual’s transition from managing people to leading people.
I saw an individual who no longer takes things personally, but rather sees objectively no matter what the emotions of those around him. I saw a person connected to her own authenticity, so much so that she easily relies on the faith she will be okay as her energy is intently focused on listening in each situation. I saw someone transition from managing people to leading people as he caringly created accountability in each individual.
On that stage in my mental improv club … I saw a Leader.