Turning flips: Two sides of the same coin (Upside-down Leader Series)

flip a coinRemember the eternal question of the chicken and egg?  Which came first? Well, leading and managing may fall into the same quandry.  Last week we began a blog series on Upside-Down Leadership.  In today’s marketplace, this style of leading is not only important but necessary.

Let’s use the laws of nature to begin our focus.  In order to physically turn upside down, you must figure out how to go from feet on the ground to head on the ground.  In other words you have to flip. Right-side up becomes up-side down.

And in the laws of influencing others, this flip requires looking at two sides of the same coin:  managing and leading.

We manage things.  Budgets, deadlines, inventories and projects.  The skills required for success involve a range of behaviors like control, protocol, and structure.  In contrast, we lead people. And the skills for success are 180 different: guide, empower, trust and teamwork.

Make no mistake. Both are required for real success.  Without budgets, financial resources deplete.   You must “manage” to financial limits.  And employees who do not feel respected in turn will not effectively take care of your customers.  You must lead employees in a way that empower them to provide great service.

Sounds great on paper.  But in reality, most people find their strength in one skill set over the other.  Supervisors who guide others through command and control will likely meet deadlines but will struggle with keeping a team intact.  In contrast, supervisors who focus too much on team dynamics versus accountability will not meet its goals.  Success requires both.

Consider this.  Many organizations promote great tactical performers.  Great intentions but we set these employees up for failure.  A great accountant may meet deadlines well, ensure accuracy and understand business principles and those skills are important.  But the skills required to lead other accountants involve the relational and inspirational skills as well.   What a great example of the need for both management and leadership.

So, consider these questions in your own professional journey:

  • Which style comes the most naturally to me:  managing or leading?
  • In which areas of influence with my team could I consider more focus or a possible change?
  • Which individuals on my team need more managing behaviors from me?  Who need more leadership?
  • How am I gathering feedback to ensure I am as well-rounded in my skills as possible?

Some good questions to chew on.  Don’t miss next week’s article.  We’ll dig into six critical skills (that involve both managing and leading) required for your success.

So, get ready. Get set.  Flip!

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