I happened on a great article by Dan McCarthy who writes about matters leadership, and his latest piece struck a chord. If you have been in the trenches long enough as an entrepreneur, these are learning’s that you will get on your journey, some obvious others not so much.
Unless you are an heir to a throne, people usually don’t begin their careers leading a large organization. There’s a progression of passages, or at least there should be.
Charan, Drotter, and Noel wrote about six leadership passages in their classic book The Leadership Pipeline. However, they use the terms “leadership” and “management” interchangeably. There’s a big difference, right?
What if we took a simplified version of the Pipeline model, and mash it with a distinction between leadership and management?
We’ll call it The Great Leadership & Management Passages Model (OK, so we need a catchier name):
Here are the six passages:
Passage #1: Managing Yourself
Managing yourself means learning how to show up to work on time and dressed appropriately, get along with your co-workers, manage your time and priorities, keep your boss happy, and follow basic workplace adequate, i.e., no microwaving fish in the break room. It also means learning how to solve problems, make decisions, use good judgment, and control your emotions.
Passage #2: Leading Yourself
Leading yourself involves figuring out what really inspires you and doing whatever it is you do with a sense of purpose and passion. It includes having a clear set of values and principles that guide your day-to-day behavior and decisions, a compelling vision, and goals. It requires the ability to handle ambiguity, paradox, and change.
Passage #3: Managing Others and Teams
Managing others and teams involves learning out to hire, train, establish performance measures, reward, and punish. It’s about figuring out what and how the work needs to be done, and lining up the right resources needed to get the work done.
Passage #4: Leading Others and Teams
In other to lead others and teams, you have to learn about and tap into each individuals values, goals, hopes, dreams, and fears. It involves getting to know each team member and learning how to inspire commitment, energize, and harness the individual and collective passion of the team. At the risk of stating the obvious – to lead others and teams requires transforming yourself into a leader.
Passage #5: Managing Organizations
Managing organizations involves optimizing a number of different functions in order to create a product or service and archive measurable organizational outcomes. It requires having a solid grasp of all aspects of the organization, including strategy, sales, marketing, human resources, manufacturing, research, legal, etc….
Goals need to be set at a high level and then cascaded throughout the organization with a performance management system in place to achieve those goals. Managing organizations also means being responsive to multiple stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, government, and the community.
Passage #6: Leading Organizations
Leading organizations requires learning how to establish a compelling vision and inspire large groups of people to act from afar. An organizational leader can no longer rely on the ability tap into each individual’s passion – they need to figure out how to manage culture and engage the entire organization in order to mobilize shared commitment.
Leading organizations requires learning how to identify and develop other leaders, because no one leader can create and sustain extraordinary performance on their own.
I believe the passages are developmentally progressive and build upon each other. An individual can technically jump right into passages #5 and #6, Managing and Leading Organizations, they won’t be successful in the long run if they haven’t learned how to lead and manage themselves, other individuals, and teams I’ve seen this happen over and over – the brilliant, young entrepreneur or the star performer who is put in charge of an organization with undeveloped emotional intelligence and no actual experience managing others. Unfortunately, sometimes they never do learn – or even try to – and it ends up being their downfall.
I realize the model is way overly simplified – we couldn’t possibly describe everything it takes to lead and manage in less than 1000 words. But then again, when it comes to models, simple is good. If you can’t explain it to a 12-year old (or a CEO), then it’s too complicated.