Let’s assume you have been working for the same organization for many years. During that time, you have had success in your position or positions. You are respected and seen as reliable, hardworking, and a team player, someone having real potential. To you, this seems like an opportunity to take that next step and position yourself for long-term growth. You are not 100% sure how others feel about the promotion, but many of your coworkers have congratulated you. You go home excited, text your family and friends, and update your social media presence to share the good news.
During the following few weeks, your excitement and enthusiasm go up and down as you realize this is going to be much harder than you thought. After all, you now understand the reality that there is a lot to learn about your new role and about leading people. As you develop a plan, you think about the different types of managers with different styles and personalities you have witnessed during the years.
Some of the managers would demand respect; after all, their positions called for it. Others would keep to themselves and allow you a vast amount of freedom, only to interject when they wanted to demand results or when there was a problem. You remember a few of the managers developing close relationships within the team. Then there seemed to be a select few managers who would spend time training or teaching the team, setting clear goals, and providing ongoing feedback. Now what?
Some never really considered the role of a manager until the opportunity was offered. Others work toward that step and view it as a destination point. For either person, the reality is that you have arrived. Have you ever seen this type of scenario in your career?
So, in your new role, will you be a manager, a leader, or neither?
Let’s start by considering some differences between a leader and a manager:
A manager tends to spend more time managing tasks or directing others and making sure the work is complete. The manager will often draw from past experiences to help him or her make decisions instead of evolving and developing. The manager will often focus on the urgent to solve problems.
The leader will think about the future and can communicate a vision and direction. The leader will forge relationships with team members and other leaders, gaining buy-in on the direction. A leader will listen to the team, drawing on its strengths, and often delegate. A leader will dedicate time to work on self-development and is open to change.
Levels of Leadership
John C. Maxwell’s book, “The 5 Levels of Leadership,” offers some solid perspective that I’ll share some takeaways on but encourage you to read this book.
Level 1 is Position: This is the weakest form of leadership because people follow you only because of your title. Have you ever heard someone say, “because I am the boss”? Well, that is Level 1.
Maxwell defines Level 2 as Permission. At this level, you have established relationships, and people follow you because they want to. Do you remember a time when you started working for a new manager? Often coworkers will seek opinions from each other on the new manager. You may have heard, “I am excited to work tonight and like the new manager. They seem like they care.” Do you think that leader may have established some initial relationships?
Level 3 is Production. At this level, people follow you because of the results. Here, people can see what you have done for the organization. They may also be personally experiencing improved results that they attribute to your leadership. Have you ever worked for a leader who had tremendous success within the organization or industry? Given this person’s previous experience and what they have accomplished, would your initial perception be that the person was able to lead you or others?
Maxwell defines Level 4 as People Development. At this level, you are following a person’s leadership because of the success and impact they have had on you. At this level, people are getting developed, and often they can reproduce or teach others the skills they have learned. Think about someone in your career who has been a successful mentor or coach to you. Think of the success you had during that time in your life. How did it make you feel toward that leader? Would you be more likely to continue to follow that leader again? If you were the coach or mentor, did you also learn in the process?
The fifth level is Pinnacle, the most difficult to achieve and may only be achieved by a few in their career. However, this is the level we all should strive to achieve. At this level, people follow you because of what they have done for the organization and, often, personally. It is you, not because of your title or position. They follow you because of who you are and what you stand for as a person. Now think about your career — have you ever met someone like this? This person is probably someone you would follow anywhere just to be on their team.
Now that we have explored some of the differences between a manager and a leader, and Maxwell’s five levels of leadership, if you’re new to the role, how will you get started, and will you be a leader or a manager? Are you a mentor or a coach? What level of leadership are you with each person on your team? How do others see you? How do you know? Will you develop yourself? If so, how? Do you have a mentor or coach? What type of training or personal development are you doing this year? Do you have a written plan for yourself? At what level of leadership do you see yourself with each team member?
Let’s face it, managers will often be charged with developing others when they are not being trained or planning personal development. What do you think the impact of this is on the business? Could this create compliance, legal issues and lost revenue for your business? Perhaps it’s the hidden cost of turnover, onboarding, and lost customer experiences that suddenly appear as the market turns. Maybe it’s hidden in lost revenue when team members practice only when they work with a live customer.
Professional athletes train consistently. Why? You can’t compete at a professional level unless you remain at the peak of your game. Should your business be any different? Do you find yourself settling for mediocre performance and then justifying why you do it? Consider this quote from an unknown author: “Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”
Investing in yourself and your teams can pay huge dividends over time. Competing and growing to the highest levels of long-term success requires a deep commitment to people’s development. Think about this: If you were training for a marathon or climbing a mountain, would you just show up? What if you were training to beat your own personal best? To get started, you would need a plan with specific commitments and time lines, as well as a commitment to invest time and resources to accomplish the goal.
Your plan can serve as a powerful tool to keep you on track, even when times get tough. Your plan should be specific, measurable, attainable, relative, and time-bound. You should build milestones or points of measurement into your plan to ensure you stay on track. In today’s world, we are fortunate to have an app for most things that can help us track our journey. Along with the plan, you will need support from others for encouragement and accountability. In addition to family members, you will want to surround yourself with successful people. Selecting the right mentors, advisors, consultants and coaches can directly impact the level of success you achieve. During your journey, you will need an open and ongoing dialogue with purposeful planning to maintain clarity and focus, and the ability to make any necessary adjustments.
Will you be a manager, leader, or neither? How will you handle people development, coaching, mentoring, and planning for you and your leadership teams?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Strifler is a regional vice president for Brown & Brown Dealer Services.
Originally posted on F&I and Showroom