Thursday, July 1, 2010

What Leaders Really Do

From What’s Best Next:

John Kotter’s classic article What Leaders Really Do is one of the most helpful things I have ever read. 

The article delineates the difference between leadership and management.  I have compiled his comparisons in the table below.  Kotter says: “The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.”



Coping with complexity Coping with change
Planning and budgeting Setting a direction
Goals Vision
Plans Strategies
Organizing and staffing Aligning people
Problem of a proper design Communications challenge
Fulfill a short-term plan Envision an alternative future
    Requires credibility and integrity
     Leads to empowerment
Controlling and problem solving Motivating and inspiring
Monitor actions Generate highly energized behavior

This quotes explains his philosophy of leadership (emphasis mine):

Since change is the function of leadership, being able to generate highly energized behavior is important for coping with the inevitable barriers to change. Just as direction setting identifies an appropriate path for movement and just as effective alignment gets people moving down that path, successful motivation ensures that they will have the energy to overcome obstacles.

How leaders motivate others:

Good leaders motivate people in a variety of ways. First, they always articulate the organization's vision in a manner that stresses the values of the audience they are addressing. This makes the work important to those individuals. Leaders also regularly involve people in deciding how to achieve the organization's vision (or the part most relevant to a particular individual). This gives people a sense of control. Another important motivational technique is to support employee efforts to realize the vision by providing coaching, feedback, and role modeling, thereby helping people grow professionally and enhancing their self-esteem. Finally, good leaders recognize and reward success, which not only gives people a sense of accomplishment but also makes them feel like they belong to an organization that cares about them. When all this is done, the work itself becomes intrinsically motivating.

Sometime I feel like I’m leading when I’m really just managing.  Does that ever happen to you?

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