Many leaders assume the people they lead no longer need to be managed. That somehow managing others at the executive level isn’t necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One might argue that you should manage things and lead people. While there is truth in this, leading people requires the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute to an organization’s success. This includes managing them effectively.
Maybe you believe that once someone reaches an executive level, he or she no longer requires any oversight. There shouldn’t be further need for direction or support. For example, as a leader, do you believe:
- Providing individual guidance and coaching people is beneath you or not worth your time?
- You should be able to trust your direct reports to manage themselves?
- Not knowing what your direct reports are doing keeps you from micromanaging them?
If you answered yes to these questions, then your motive for leading may be off. This is according to Patrick Lencioni, author of The Motive: Why so many leaders abdicate their most important responsibilities.
“You can either rethink your role and get more involved in coaching them around their work,” writes Lencioni, “or accept that they will often fail to meet your expectations and become misaligned with the goals of the team.”
The fact is leaders do need to manage others in the most effective manner using an approach that includes clear communication, true collaboration, and a coaching mentality. It means navigating effectively in between completely hands-off and micromanaging.
Lencioni says managing others is ultimately about helping them set the general direction of their work, ensuring that it is aligned with and understood by their peers, and staying informed enough to identify potential obstacles and problems to improve themselves behaviorally to make it more likely that they will succeed.
In his book, Lencioni describes what he calls reward-centered leadership, which is based on the belief that “being a leader is the reward for hard work; therefore, the experience of being a leader should be pleasant and enjoyable, free to choose what they work on and avoid anything mundane, unpleasant, or uncomfortable.” This motive for leading is mis-guided as it doesn’t provide the work necessary for the organization to thrive.
On the other hand, responsibility-centered leadership is based on the “belief that being a leader is a responsibility; therefore, the experience of leading should be difficult and challenging (though certainly not without elements of personal gratification).” This motive is grounded in the notion that there are requirements of leadership that fall outside of what one prefers to do and that needs to be done anyway.
Managing others is vital to leading effectively and one of the five omissions of those who are reward-centric leaders, according to Lencioni. The other four omissions are developing the leadership team, having difficult and uncomfortable conversations, running great team meetings, and communicating constantly and repetitively to employees. All of these may be avoided, outsourced, or simply ignored by a leader at the organization’s peril.
Managing subordinates and ensuring that they manage theirs is central to being an effective executive. Effectively managing others is one of the elements that enable a leader to rise in an organization and this should continue no matter how high one rises. In fact, the higher one rises, the more they should recognize that it is the people around him or her that determines the success of the organization. These people require effective managing.