Should Managers Start Leading?
Suddenly, why is there so much pressure on managers to build on their leadership skills? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be a leader and in any case, leadership skills can’t just be ‘cultivated’. As counterintuitive it may sound, not every manager aspires to be a leader. It’s also incorrect to assume that the moment someone is promoted as a manager, he/she automatically possesses leadership skills.
There was a time when a thin line separated leadership and management skills. But times have changed and this thin line has gotten blurred. The changing dynamics of today’s workforce demands that managers have leadership skills. Today’s workforce looks up to their managers to give meaning to their work, and to nurture, mentor and inspire them. It’s a well-known fact that most employees leave managers and not organizations. The old management tools of carrots and sticks don’t motivate people anymore. Organizations are aware that talent is hard to come by, and that a vibrant and energetic workforce has a direct impact on bottom lines.
In that case, the onus is on the organization to invest in training for leadership development among managers. Organizations need to identify the important leadership skills that most managers lack. Probably, effective communication and people management skills would top that list.
Managers need to understand that their role is not to control and evaluate people, but to be a mentor and help their subordinates unleash their full potential. Managers need to create a workplace environment where there is scope for constructive discussion, dialogue and feedback. They need not foster fear or punish for work not done. Instead, they should inspire dedication and reinforce accountability in a fair and transparent manner.
Managers also need to change from simply shouting out directives to being calm in the face of chaos. They should show humility, empathy and compassion in order to motivate the workforce and encourage commitment.
The current business environment demands that it’s time managers take leadership reins in their hands and start to lead.