Do you manage or lead?

There is so much turmoil in the world and whether it’s political in-fighting, civil up-risings, perplexing global financial problems, the plight of refugees or greed induced criminal activity, much of it comes down to mistrust between people, organisations and cultures.

If you think about the effort we collectively make to try and set things right, the deeper and more complex the problems can become.  We seem to have too many people in influential positions managing problems in a manner like repeated plugging a hole in a boat, and not leading the way to solve the underlying issue.  We see it every time we read or look at the news.  If only we had some leadership?

People are people

A wise Swiss executive once said “We thought we were employing human resources but we got people instead”.   Think about it, because in the world of learning and development we see many different people.  People with needs, feelings, anxieties and egos.  As learning facilitators they pass through our hands while attending a course, and they go off, back to work, usually with the same characteristics or personal idiosynchrasy they arrived with.

It’s likely that back at work they get embroiled in problems, and apart from grappling with who to trust, and how much they can trust the people they do trust, they are probably exposed to peers and senior people who spend all their time micro-managing problems, and by default, the people they look after.

Managing isn’t leading

Some time ago the following words appeared in a United Technologies advertisement:

Let’s get rid of management.

People don’t want to be managed.

They want to be led.

Whoever heard of a world manager?

World leader, yes.

Educational leader. Political leader. Religious leader. Scout leader. Community leader. Business leader. 

They lead.

They don’t manage  . . .

If you want to manage somebody,

manage yourself.

Do that well, and you will be ready to

stop managing.

And start leading.

Where are the leaders?

All organisations need leaders with courage, foresight, and ability to take people to new levels of endeavour and to utilise creative minds to explore and innovate.

In our specific field we need leaders like this with passion and infectious enthusiasm coupled with a willingness to share knowledge and coach.  I believe it’s key to the success of the HR (People!) and learning and development function, because it is in a position, through example and visability, to influence all business functions.  This includes the extent to which we can attract people to work with our organisations, and it extends to customer advovacy and organisation reputation.

It’s up to each of us to ponder and to act on what this takes remembering that managing yourself is very different from leading people just as leading people is very different from managing resources.


What level of importance do you place on self-management?

Have you been prepared for it? Do you manage or lead? – Learning Cafe



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