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  • Writer's picturepeterfruin

Should employees be managed or led?

Within organisations one often hears about the quality of management. How well managed is the organisation, are line managers proactive and supportive and which of them have received management training and development?

The question I pose today is:

Do employees/staff need managing or do they need to be led?

The vocabulary of management theory has traditionally focused on “managing” people. Think about that, “managing” implies some negativity, reminds us that perhaps left to their own devices staff will err and stray and that “managers” are required to bring them back in to line.

I am convinced that we should be talking about providing staff with “leadership”, which implies sound direction, a clear sense of purpose and opens the possibility that staff can be inspired – not simply “managed”.

In recent times I have become a devotee of YouTube. It is an amazing platform packed with helpful and inspiring content.

In one of my recent trawls I came across a TEDx Derby presentation given by Peter Anderton and first published in 2016.

Peter presented the 2 rules of leadership but first reflected on the great thinkers of the past including Cicero and Jesus Christ in which approaches to other people should be altruistic and ego free.

He presented the 2 rules as follows:

First rule of Leadership

It is not about you!

Peter is addressing those in leadership positions.

Leadership is not about the leader it is all about those that the leader leads. It is putting staff first, ensuring that they have the resources, skills, motivation and sense of purpose to work to the best of their abilities.

It is not about the ego, status or position of the leader, or perceived worth in the organisation it is simply not about you!!

Second rule of Leadership

It is all about you!

John Maxwell published something he calls the five levels of leadership.:

He says people will follow you because:

Level 1 - they have to

Level 2 - they like you

Level 3 - you deliver

Level 4 - you help them grow

Level 5 - of who you are and what you represent

So it turns out to be all about you as a leader but not in the way most leaders think of themselves.

Who you are, what type of person you are (your character), your personality, what you hold dear and what you reject is key? One of the most inspiring qualities of an exceptional leader is honesty.

I remember having a heart to heart over diner with probably the best boss I have ever worked with, and we were talking about what had inspired him to lead. He described a situation in the early part of his career when he was called in to his MD’s office. The MD said Tom I need your help we have a crisis; I have screwed up”

My boss was shocked to hear this ultimate admission of what some would have regarded as weakness, but it had the reverse effect – it was utterly inspirational.

This reminds me of research carried out By Fred Kiel in which he researched the link between character of CEO’s and corporate financial results.

As a result he listed 4 qualities that affected the character of CEO’s:

  • Integrity

  • Respectability

  • Compassion

  • Forgiveness

Fred found that the higher the scores for these attributes in CEO’s the better the financial performance of their businesses became. He estimated that the best CEOs as measured against these factors, produced between 8-10% more worth annually for shareholders than the worst as measured against the same factors.

Impressive hey!

Peter Anderton concludes his presentation by saying to implement change effectively you first must change yourself (the enemy within as Cicero described). Few of us who have had the privilege to lead others will have made that their starting point.

Who you are and what you represent makes a hell of a difference to your success as a leader?

What do you think?

What has been your experience of bosses you have admired and by whom you have been inspired?

What made them special?

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