Do We Need Managers with Leadership Skills?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rosa Schmidt is Founder and President of Rosa Schmidt Consulting, a human resources consulting company. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Rosa worked for a Fortune 400 energy company for over 20 years where she held various positions in human resources, and was responsible for developing strategic initiatives in the area of workforce planning, employee engagement and leadership development.

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By Rosa Schmidt

Do managers in today’s work environment require leadership skills?  Are leadership skills different than management skills?  And if so, why is it so important for managers to have these leadership skills?

First, let’s discuss the difference between the two.  A manager is someone who manages more of the day-to-day tactical issues of his or her group. The manager plans and organizes resources on a short-term basis. These resources include people. They are focused on yearly goals and targets. They administer, coordinate, and control. They are bottom line focused.

Leaders do some of the same things. They must plan and organize but they do this with a much longer timeframe in mind. They have a much more long-term focus. They must think more strategically, but yet they may still have to deal with tactical issues.  A leader, however, drives his team towards a longer term vision. Good leaders have strong communication skills and are great listeners. Their role is to unleash the full potential of each and every employee. They encourage innovation and are open to new ideas. Good leaders are an enabling force, helping people and organizations to perform and develop.

So does a manager need leadership skills?  There was a time when the role of the manager and the role of the leader could be easily separated. In this new economy, there is much more complexity in the workplace.  Managers must do more with less and they must deal with constant change. The skills needed for managers and leaders should no longer be easily separated. Organizations cannot afford to keep managers who don’t have leadership skills. 

Motivation is a Key Leadership Skill for Today’s Successful Managers

There are currently four different generations in the workplace, all with different needs and values.  We all know that employees need to be motivated and engaged.  What motivates each of the generations is different.  Their values and needs are different.  So managers play a key role in understanding what motivates each of their employees.  Engaging each and every employee to unleash their pull potential is an imperative for success.  Research has shown that organizations with a greater percentage of engaged workers are more successful financially. We also know from research that most employees leave their organizations because of their immediate supervisor.   People look to their managers to help them define a purpose, nurture their skills and talents, and inspire results. So even though traditional management worked in the past, the ever changing workplace and the dynamics of the different generations making up the workforce require that a manager possess leadership skills. Jack Welsh said it very well. “We have to undo a 100 year old concept and convince our managers that their role is not to control people and stay on top of things, but to guide, energize and excite.”

TAGS: Blogs Executive Education Leadership Management Motivation Rosa Schmidt