Management Re-Defined: Leadership

Published by Sergey Kiklevich on

Leadership. Take a moment to think about this word. It’s so much more than just a word. For those who are true leaders, it’s a way of life. It’s a unique ability to take extreme ownership, to take full responsibility for everything that happens to you, and to empower others to follow your example. Leadership can only be attained if you practice what you preach and own up to your failures as much as your victories.

Unfortunately, leadership has historically been taught and learned as management. The corporate culture has embraced and continues to embrace management. We learn about it in school and receive degrees in management. Many of our parents and peers are managers. We want to become managers because of perceived powers, status and money that come with it. We have taken it for granted for a long time. But what does it really mean?

Let’s check out the origin of this fancy old term. From Old French manège it means “horsemanship.” From Italian maneggio, from maneggiare “to handle, touch,” especially “to control a horse,” which ultimately from Latin noun manus “hand”. So, if you like the idea of “managing” your people like working horses of your business, then go on. Don’t be surprised if your business gets stuck at some point. If you’d like to take your organization to the next level, I invite you to reconsider such an approach.

In a recent conversation with one of my consulting peers (nearly 30 years in business), I received one of the best pieces of advice. Here is what he said: “According to my mentor who turned his $9 million business to $45 million and later to a $3.5 billion empire, the success of a business is in empowering PEOPLE. And you CAN NEVER MANAGE PEOPLE. You can only do three things to empower them to greatness: 1) LEAD them, 2) COACH them, and 3) MENTOR them.”

That’s right! You can’t manage people. People will tell you whatever you want to hear, especially if you are their MANAGER. The moment you’re gone, they’ll do whatever they want to and deem as appropriate based on their beliefs, habits, and views. The most effective way to get people to follow you is to LEAD them by your own example.

Bossing, delegating, and managing are outdated and obsolete ways of running a business. People want to be heard and understood, to be a contribution, to be involved in decision making and planning, to be recognized and rewarded for their performance. Yet most of the organizational structures discourage their employees from that [some knowingly and some unknowingly]. Why is that? Well. In my opinion, it’s because most employees are paid to show up at the workplace and perform their duties. They are neither properly incentivized nor aligned with the main goals of an organization. It’s a basic exchange of corporate dollars for employees’ hours. As such, it comes by no surprise that burnouts, lack of productivity, and lack of motivation are so common these days at a workplace.

It’s time to wake up. It’s time to shake things up. It’s time to transform this outdated corporate mentality. As a business owner, executive or manager you can get the most valuable feedback to grow business from the people who are on your front lines. So, LEAD the way, invite your people to share, create a culture that will facilitate open and transparent communication. Spend time and energy to recognize their talents and help them to leverage those talents. True leadership doesn’t have titles. It doesn’t discriminate based on color, race, age, gender, degrees, and departments. True leadership is commitment to empowering your people to be better, to show initiative, to contribute beyond what’s written in their job description. One of the main tools to accomplish all that is LISTENING. That’s right. You have to take time to listen and for once be prepared to be nowhere else and with no one else. Give people your undivided attention without emails, calls, texts, and other distractions. When I say listening, I mean listening in a way that allows people to be self-expressed, heard, understood, and gotten. The best leaders are people who listen well.

As the moderator of a keynote panel discussion said at a recent conference that I attended: “Today we live in a world where everyone is talking, but nobody is listening”. In the age of extreme digital noise and overabundance of information, those leaders who will learn how to listen will lead their organizations to new horizons. And those who will continue to only speak in an attempt to “outspeak” others will be left behind.

Gambit Solutions Inc. is dedicated to helping organizations and their people be heard, understood, and gotten. My next article will go more in-depth about listening. Stay tuned my friends. Peace.

Ⓒ 2019, Sergey “The Gambit” Kiklevich, Gambit Solutions Inc.