Do You Manage or Lead?

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Recently I read a short article by Chuck Lauer, former publisher of Modern Healthcare and an author, public speaker and career coach, titled 10 Points on Leadership.  I am listing them here in Letterman style.

10. Have courage. Leadership requires courage. Leaders have to go beyond just taking care of their own careers. They need to engage in calculated risks that will secure the future of the whole organization. This is especially important in these trying times, when healthcare, and business in general, is facing so many enormous challenges.

9. Leadership isn’t for everyone. Not all that many people want to take the hard hits that leaders have to absorb, regardless of whether they run a hospital, a clinic or a restaurant. A study of graduate students several years ago showed that well over 60 percent did not want the responsibility of being a leader. While there are many talented people, only a select few will embrace a leadership role.

8. Share credit. Leaders know the value of giving credit to others, even as they step forward immediately to take the blame for losses, so that their people are protected and valued. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists,” the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said. “When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ “

7. Embrace responsibility. Outstanding leaders come in all shapes and sizes, from a variety of backgrounds, but what really sets them apart is their enjoyment in taking on responsibility and willingness to make tough decisions when necessary. Leaders don’t waffle or equivocate. They make sure their decisions are fair-minded and balanced.

6. Be transparent. Great leaders don’t believe in secrecy or closed-door meetings. They must conduct themselves with transparency and openness so that rumors don’t start and employees don’t feel shut out. Leaders who are frank rather than evasive — even about difficult issues — will be able to win employees’ trust.

5. Demonstrate integrity. Successful leaders recognize that the way they behave reflects the principles and ethics of the organization. Integrity and ethics are essential for any leader. A leader cannot just be “one of the boys.” Leaders need to stand above the rest and show the way.

4. Choose a clear mission. Leaders make sure the mission of their organization is plainly articulated and followed day in and day out. A mission statement can sound nice and look really good, but it has to be more than a bunch of words. It should be the very heart and soul of what the organization is about. It should inspire and direct.

3. Cherish and respect employees. Leaders function as enablers, helping employees perform their jobs to the nth degree. A leader can only get work done through other people. Employees who get respect will produce at their highest capacity and make the leader look good. Make sure people have the tools to do their jobs — and the freedom to make mistakes!

2. Don’t live in a bubble. Great leaders listen to their people, obtaining a variety of perspectives from a variety of sources. This helps them distill their own decision-making. They ask employees what they think and probe them on the pros and cons of a proposal. This not only shows employees that they are valued but also gets the leader closer to the best solution.

1. Leading is not the same as managing. There is a huge difference between managing and leading. “Leaders do the right thing and managers do things right,” it has been said. While managers focus on working toward the organization’s goals, orchestrating resources in an effective and efficient manner, leaders need to engage in strategic thinking. They need to pay less attention to details and focus on the big picture.

            By Chuck Lauer

So, there is nothing wrong with being a manager, but not a leader.  It’s important to understand what you are.  Don’t try to be something you are not.  Know your talents, gifts and strengths and utilize them and do what you do best.  There is no right or wrong answer, but the question remains, Do You Manage or Lead?

—Marty Hudson

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