Monday, January 11, 2010

Wanted – LEADERS!

I attended a senior job fair recently at my children’s high school. Many local businesses were represented with attractive booths and flashy recruiting brochures. Everyone arrived with the same intention: to attract the best candidates to holiday and part-time positions. I watched the seniors file between the booths during their breaks between classes and eventually realized I could group all the students in one of three participant categories:

1. Grab and stuff: These seniors took material indiscriminately from every booth and stuffed it all in their back packs to read later.
2. Move in packs: These seniors moved together in groups, investigating one booth at a time until everyone in their group got a predetermined set of questions answered, including ‘Where are you located,’ and ‘What is entry level pay?’
3. Stalk and attack: These seniors may walk through the job fair two or three times before stopping at a few select booths.

Danielle was a stalker. She eyeballed my client’s booth three times before she finally stopped to learn about the part-time position available in a local day spa. She didn’t ask where we were or what the position paid. She asked, “What’s it like to work in your spa?” After a pleasant conversation about the culture of the company, training opportunities, services they provide clients, etc. I asked Danielle, “What made you stop at this booth and not the others?”
“Easy,” she said, “the way you were all talking to each other, I dunno, something about your body language told me you’re really into it.”

Cryptic as that answer sounds, Danielle nailed the difference between leadership and management – leaders are really “into it.” There was a moment in my client’s professional life when she came to me asking, “Why do my people leave me?” I told her to either improve her ability to manage the ‘grab and stuff’ and ‘move in packs’ laborers, or consider becoming the kind of leader who can attract the ‘stalk and attack’ team members that will follow her to all ends of the earth. It’s a personal choice.

Not everyone can be a leader. Some businesses remain operational for generations with owner managers who swing the employee revolving door themselves; never making the choice to evolve into the kind of leader Danielle will seek.

Let’s take a closer look at a few differences between leaders and managers.

Can you think of any other differences, now that you’ve found yourself in either column? Leadership is both a decision, and a set of competencies that can be learned and practiced. It takes a quality vision, and a desire to take risks to become the leader your people need now. A coach is best suited to bring you to the leadership decision, and engage you in activities designed to expand your abilities because they operate from a position of where you are today, as a person. Business ownership is only one aspect of your life. However, it cannot be addressed as separate from the rest of your being. Your family, your past, and your deepest fears – everything affects the way you lead or manage your team. Working in a space where a business coach can accommodate and eventually leverage all aspects of your character in your future success as a leader is both a unique challenge, and a mutual honor.

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