Management is the easy bit … handing out tasks, telling people what to do and how to do it, and managing their performance.  Easy peasy … then why do so many managers feel like they’re failing much of the time?  And why do some find it difficult to know the distinction between Management and Leadership?

I think the answer is relatively straightforward: team members want more than just to show up, do what they’re told, and get reprimanded every time they make an honest mistake.  People want purpose and meaning in their lives.  They want to feel that they belong to a company that shares some or all of the same values that they hold dear.  They want to get better at their jobs, move on upwards, and make use of their intelligence and creativity.

I do believe that the great majority of people (I hesitate to say everybody) want to do a good job for their boss, their company, and their own satisfaction.

The ‘Killer Question’ for a Leader

Managers often ask “How do I motivate my people?”  We think they could be asking a different question: “How do I set up the conditions in which my people motivate themselves?”  That’s the Leadership question.  You don’t need to do the motivating – they already know what motivates them.  Just ask them what their values are, how they would like to work as a team, what they want from you – and then get out of their way.

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They will then do a great job for you, solve issues you didn’t even know you had, and come up with excellent ideas to make things work better for the department, the company and your customers.

You can set the example by aiming high, setting goals, coaching them to succeed, recognising their achievements, and working with them on your team’s purpose.  That’s what turns a Manager into a Leader.

As Steve Jobs once famously said about his purpose for Apple: “I want to put a ding in the Universe.”  On an intellectual level, I have no idea what that means.  On a gut feel level, I know exactly what he meant.  So, what would constitute a ding in your Universe?