Manager – Leader – Coach: Who Are You?

The answer is all of the above.  Different situations call for different roles.  Leaders wear many hats and it is your responsibility to determine which hat to wear in each situation.  Let’s take a look at a few things that might help you understand the differences between leadership roles and help you choose your hats.

Manager – the Decision Maker

We’ve all seen the quotes “managers do things right and leaders do the right things” or “managers focus on things and leaders focus on people,” and there are many more just like those. In fact, I have my own take on this idea in my LinkedIn profile (feel free to check it out).  The truth is leaders sometimes manage and managers often lead.  When your team has a problem and needs a quick decision, they need someone who understands the system, has knowledge of the process, and can direct action quickly – a Manager. 

Leader – the Visionary

Leaders are able to see the future and take their teams into that future.  This doesn’t mean leaders must be the most creative or innovative members of their teams.  While creativity and innovation are valuable, the greatest visionary element is curiosity.  Visionary leaders ask questions like what is next? What could we do better?  They also have the innate ability to lead their teams in finding answers to those questions.

Coach – the Mentor

As the wife of a football coach, I know how much coaches pour into their players.  In an organizational setting, leaders serve as coaches to individual members of their teams, encouraging them to grow personally and professionally.  The coaching process leads individual team members into the discovery of their own strengths and guides them toward victory – achievement of their goals.

Leading people requires a variety of leadership skills with the ability to discern which skills are needed in different situations. Be bold, be brave, and step into those situations with skill and passion.  Remember, your people are counting on you.

“Leadership is not a position or title, it is an action and example.” Donald McGannon

It’s All Been Said Before

I mentioned several weeks ago that I was planning to revamp the format of the Dr. Karavedas blog. Some time ago, it became clear to me that much of what I want to say feels as if it’s already been said … because it has! There are many, many great leaders in the world – most of whom have had much to say about leadership. Covey, Maxwell, Welch, Collins – they’ve all written amazing insights into leadership. Bass, Greenleaf, Kouzes and Posner have expanded entire theoretical frameworks on leadership.  What is this doctoral student going to write about leadership that hasn’t been said already? This is the place I found myself. It isn’t writer’s block. It isn’t imposter syndrome. It is simply the realization that it’s all been said before.

Then it came to me – say it again. You see, I love a good quote. I don’t even mind a cliché or two. I am the person who stands in line at Pieology and reads the wall – all of it. There’s a reason that quotes are quotable. If there wasn’t truth in the words, they wouldn’t be repeated. It doesn’t matter that it’s been said before; some truth is worth repeating. That’s what I’m going to do.

For each new blog, I will choose one of my favorite leadership quotes and explain what it means to me. I encourage you to leave comments providing your interpretation as well. A lot can be learned from other leaders, and we will learn together from these leaders – in their own words. Together, we can take this journey toward developing our own leadership style and becoming great leaders to those we lead.

Dr. K is Going Away … But Just for a Little While

Dr. K is going away …. but just for a short time.

I’ve been away for quite a little while already. The holidays came upon us and were quickly followed by the next stage of my journey toward becoming Dr. K. I’ve entered the world of “Prospectus.” It’s a strange and wonderful place that offers an enormous amount of reading, a fair amount of writing, and very little sleep. It’s part of the journey, and I have embraced it wholeheartedly.

I’m excited to announce that I’ve decided to revamp the content this blog just a bit. I will still post occasional Reflections through my dissertation defense. However, I have a new idea that I will share with you as soon as it’s fully developed. In the meantime, Dr. K is taking a little hiatus. I may post the occasional Reflection as seems appropriate, but look for a full return somewhere around late March or early April.

Until then…

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 2

As promised, this journey has been transformative. I’ve quickly learned a secret – one they failed to mention when I was admitted. In order to become a transformational leader, you will be transformed personally. It is becoming increasingly clear that this program will require me to look inside and truly evaluate what I see.

Much of the beginning work of this program has focused on evaluation and assessment of my skills as a leader.  I’ve evaluated myself, those I supervise have evaluated me, those who supervise me have evaluated me, those I worked with before and those I work with now – all have evaluated me. This process isn’t for the faint of heart.   It’s easy to say you want feedback, but do we really? Do we REALLY want to know what others think about us? I think we do.

Have you ever watched those remodel shows on HGTV? What’s the first thing they do when renovating – DEMO!

You have to be willing to tear down the old in order to replace it with something new.

I’ve been learning to identify old ways of thinking that need to be demolished because they don’t reflect current practice. I’ve identified old habits that must be removed to provide room for a new set of habits that focus on serving others. I am destroying bias that has hidden in the walls of my leadership style without detection. Leaving it there is toxic. Tearing down is necessary. It provides the freedom and space to rebuild. That’s exciting.

Like many people starting down this road my focus was squarely on the goal – becoming Dr. Karavedas. Truth is, I hadn’t given much thought to the change within me that would occur along the journey. Each step along the pathway I become more aware of the changes taking place within me.

Strengthening the infrastructure isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it isn’t even visible. But, it is absolutely necessary. A strong inside allows the outside appearance to not only look beautiful, but to actually be beautiful.

All the Small Things

“Pay attention to the small things for one day you may realize they really were the big things.”                 Kurt Vonnegut

This is one of my favorite quotes. It sets the tone for my approach to life – personal and professional. In leadership, I’ve experienced those moments when small things like appreciation, kindness, remembering make a large impact. A word of encouragement to a student can inspire them to try again. Remembering a staff member’s birthday shows they are valued for more than their organizational skills

Small things are often easy to do.

These concepts can be embraced by all leaders and put into practice immediately. I know there are many “small things” lists in the leadership world. This is mine.

Be courteous. One of the first traits we teach our children is to be polite.   This should be the first trait of leadership as well. Use the words please and thank you always. Model the behavior we learned as children. Say hello and goodbye when you arrive and leave, even when stepping out for lunch. Most of our parents taught us to be courteous. We need simply to do what we already know we should.

Ask, don’t tell. Words are important. Rather than telling your team to do something, ask them. It’s a small, but very big difference. Asking, “Does anyone have space in their schedule to teach an additional course” is different than “I need you to teach this course.” Whether a student, a staff member, or a colleague, we value people by being careful that instructions or requests are not delivered as commands.

Be flexible when possible. I heard a parenting expert once advise parents to – whenever possible – say yes. By doing so, when required to say no, it is more meaningful and acceptable. A similar concept can be effective in the workplace. There are many areas where leaders can be accommodating – flexible start/end times, choice of office location, room accommodations, and more. None of these ideas require great cost; yet, each speaks volumes to employees about their value.

It doesn’t take much to make a big difference. Small actions show you care. Today’s workforce wants to feel valued and appreciated. Leaders have the opportunity to do just that.

Who’s In Your Mirror?

The field of education contains an instructional process called the Plan, Teach, Assess, Reflect cycle. This type of reflective practice allows teachers to determine whether students truly understand a lesson or should changes be made to either content or delivery. It’s not a bad process and it can easily be applied to leadership. Reflecting on your leadership actions allows you to examine whether others truly understand your message.  Your leadership reflection reveals what others see in you.

Reflective practices look different on different people.

Some people love to journal. Their reflective practice includes several pages of notes routinely written at each day’s end in a beautiful leather book. Others reflect more situationally.  They review each leadership opportunity and reflect on its results. Were meeting goals achieved? What would I do differently? How did my team respond? And then there are those who blog. Bloggers seek feedback inside and outside of the organization.  They write down their reflections for the world to read.

The method of reflection is not as important as the practice of reflection. Leadership – like teaching – is intentional. Regular reflection of your leadership practice allows you to make small adjustments before they become large problems. Continuous improvement as a leader occurs through genuine, honest evaluation of your leadership activities.  Plan, Lead, Assess, Reflect.

Great leaders reflect often. Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror.