The headline above is perhaps the most illuminating question my clients can answer. It provides both of us a glimpse into how they see and practice their leadership/management roles. Before I say more, please spend a few minutes jotting down your answer to this question:
What’s YOUR job?
As you now look at what you’ve written, let’s parse the information in two different ways.
Management v. Leadership Mindset: First, to what extent did you write down management issues: achieving objectives, utilizing best practices and creating new processes? Contrast how much you wrote about leadership: vision, growing your people and creating new thought leadership. If you are like most executives, the tyranny of what must be accomplished today overwhelms the equally important task of creating the future. If you don’t exercise leadership with your people, who will (replace you)?
The Time Line: Another way of looking at what you wrote is how much attention you pay to
- Understanding the Past and digesting the lessons learned.
- Managing the Present so that you will survive/thrive into the future.
- Envisioning and Creating the Future by creating new customers, products, markets, etc.
There is a simple fact I learned when I was in product management at Gillette many years ago. When your responsibility is to both manage the present (current products and services) and create future opportunities (new products and services), you will spend virtually all of your time managing the present. Yet a positive future in today’s business environment must be purposefully created and pursued.
If you don’t believe what I’ve just said, look at your own calendar. Add up the number of hours actually set aside in your schedule for thinking about and discussing the future, having career conversations with your people and attending conferences/seminars where you can have the conversations that lead to innovation. Many of you have few if any of these items in your schedules; and consequently you will not do them! Contrast this to the amount of time spent on managing the quarterly results, solving problems and hearing updates.
To what extent are you forming new relationships, growing your people’s capabilities, enhancing the decision-making and judgment processes and galvanizing your people to meaningful action?
I can hear your response now: “I don’t have time to do both management and leadership.” Creating time will be the second part of this blog to air next week as will be specific strategies for creating positive future success.
By the way, my answer to your response is: “Yes, you do and it is critical to your future success!”