Friday, April 26, 2013

Leadership vs Management: "Leadership is about Character"

I've occasionally been frustrated when teaching and coaching mid-career leaders who seem to always want to make the distinction between leadership and if it was an either/or choice.  I long ago learned it's not an either/or choice... good leaders must do both.  Simply put you manage "things"....processes, systems, materiel, finances....and you lead people.  Good leaders must do both. 

 In this Forbes interview,  outgoing Novartis chairman Dr. Daniel Vasella takes this simple view further.

"To a greater extent than management, leadership involves character. Let me also mention intrinsic motivation, interpersonal skills, integrity and courage paired with self-awareness and the ongoing desire to learn. At the core of leadership is the core of the person. Leadership development must involve introspection, reflection, and examination of our patterns. Otherwise, we become hostages of our old patterns of behavior, and we tend to unconsciously repeat the past.

If you believe in the growth of people, it will lead to better leadership. In leadership programs we have facilitated, we engage people in the thrill of discovering themselves, their blind spots, and their patterns in a safe, trusting, professional environment. They share life stories with others and receive feedback. It’s amazing to see competent managers connect the dots from their life stories to their current and emerging leadership stories. You have to have a deep commitment to develop new skills and patterns. It has a deep influence for teams and individuals. Few things are as fulfilling as seeing top people grow to the next level of leadership contribution."

If you read the Forbes article, you will see Dr. Vasella also talks to the importance of the leader's ability to articulate a "purpose" for the organization.  This reinforces the influencing skill of "creating a broader frame" I explored in blogs of 26 March and 28 March.

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