There's a difference between a good Manager and a good Leader. Many confuse them.
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." - Peter Drucker.
Of course, the biggest difference is that a leader must have a vision whereas a manager may simply be implementing it.
I have worked with many outstanding leaders. Over the years, certain qualities are always present. They combine their character with their skill and, if you like, it's the art and the science.
Vision is not everyone's gift. It is simply the art of seeing what nobody else does and hearing what wasn't asked. In some ways it is intuition or instinct.
A leader without a vision is driving blind.
Driving blind usually has just one out come.
"Let Me Tell You a Story"
Facts and figures matter. However, they are understood by a minority and the greatest illusion with communication is that it has taken place.
Good leaders communicate. They paint a picture. They articulate the goal.
If you can't articulate the destination, it's unlikely you'll persuade anyone to follow.
I'm suspicious of two statements when someone is trying to convince. The first is "honestly" and the second is "trust me".
Neither are necessary unless there is doubt.
Good leaders are honest. They don't try to be, they just are. It's how they live.
"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything" – Mark Twain
Many people listen with the intent to reply. Real listeners listen.
They listen to learn and to understand. There's a proverb that says "If you talk too much you are repeating what you already know. If you listen, you learn something new".
Every good leader I have met is a good listener.
When you fly across the world the airplane Captain becomes our leader. He has the vision, the destination, the skill and, even though we don't know him, we trust him.
All of a sudden it is turbulent. A dreadful storm throws the aircraft about. We worry. Are we doomed? The loudspeaker springs to life. It's the Captain. He is calm. His voice reassures, his tone too. He is in control. "Sit back, relax".
Now think of the opposite?
"The Right Thing"
It's usually much more difficult to do the right thing. Often, we have a choice. Sometimes, we will do the easy thing even if it means compromising.
Good leaders don't.
For them, the right thing is the only option – ever.
"Tough but Fair"
It's easy to be 'nice'. It's easy to drift towards favourites and favouritism. Leaders don't. They make time for everyone – equally.
Because they always do 'the right thing' they are not easily swayed into the easy road or the wrong road. That's why they have to be tough. That toughness is simply the pursuit of the right thing.
Unless you're a politician, good leaders are not political. They don't gossip, they don't play games and, because they are honest, they don't know how.
"I've Got Time"
A really bad leader never has time. "So sorry, not now, I'm busy. Another day?"
We have all met them. Good leaders make time. In fact, the more exceptional the leader, the more time they make.
Back to vision. Good leaders know where they want to go. They don't waste time, don't take detours and, most of all, don't take short cuts.
If you can't focus, you can't lead. It's that steely determination that flashes when challenged.
Not everyone is destined to be a leader but remember, many leaders are bad managers and a vision will never be delivered if there isn't a manager to make sure the dream is delivered.
©Conor Kenny & Associates