I had an interesting conversation last week about something on my business cards. “Helping leaders grow” is something I put on my cards when I had them made. The person I was talking to said that I was limiting myself with that verbiage. I definitely see and appreciate her point.
That conversation got me thinking about leadership versus management.
As part of most of the leadership development training I facilitate, I do a group activity that looks at the differences and similarities between the terms “leadership” and “management”. The discussion around this activity almost always goes like this: Leadership is more about strategy, vision, and inspiration. It is, in many ways, the heart of the business. Management is more tactical; it is about operating procedures, systems, rules, and results. Another thing usually comes up in these discussions, and that is that management and managers are positional (it is a title, a job function), whereas leadership and leaders are not (it tends to come from within a person).
I, as well as many others, use "leader" in place of “manager” quite often. I am not sure why others do it, but I can tell you why I do it. I once did my leadership versus management activity in a session and there were some VERY interesting results. One group wrote the word leadership on a flipchart and drew a lightbulb under the word; they also wrote the word management and written and drew a whip under it. Their interpretation was very definitely interesting, and it is something that stuck with me – managers are often seen in less than a positive light since they are often the enforcers of the rules, the drivers of results, and sometimes the dreaded micro-manager. I prefer the word leader since it doesn’t have some of the negative connotations the word manager has
Back to my business cards, if I go with that logic, “helping leaders grow” is something that I can do for anyone. A person doesn’t need to be a manager or ever want to be a manager. A person doesn’t even need to have a job. There are leaders in every group, from community groups, to families, to the workplace, etc. And I do want to help leaders grow – you can decide what you want to lead, I want to help you hone your skillset so that you are a great leader.
In all honestly, I think that her comment was more about the fact that "helping leaders grow" is limiting because it doesn't reflect the full scope of what my business offers, which is more than working with individuals. But, nonetheless, it got me thinking...