Managers Who Lead: Management is the New Leadership

Managers Who LeadManagement has been quietly changing and growing more complicated since the Industrial Revolution. As you’ll see, today we need managers who lead.

In the past, effective management was simple and easy. Managers gave orders and demanded loyalty. It was that simple. Resources exceeded demand, so that made it easy.


The manufacturing economy also made management a straightforward and unambiguous affair. Workers used their hands, and managers used their intellect. 

The Value Zone is where we create actual customer value. It used to be machinery and tangible products like steel and automobiles. During the manufacturing economy, managers managed things.

But today, everything has changed. Machines and products no longer make up the Value Zone. An individual’s knowledge, ideas, energy, and enthusiasm — these constitute the Value Zone today.


Also, nowadays, there are always more needs than resources. Workers have more choices. The days of “one place to work” are gone.


Managers who lead, the paramount challenge

As a result, we can no longer demand loyalty. As difficult as this fact is for managers to swallow, it doesn’t change the fact that today people volunteer their ideas, input, and energy. The degree or level of effort put forth at work — engagement — is directly proportional to how team members feel management treats them.

Workers will give you their backs, their arms, their labor in exchange for payment. But they need to feel welcomed, comfortable, safe and appreciated enough to engage and offer their ideas, hearts, and creativity.  Only in the right setting will people give away what they hold close. The environment must be trusting, open, and accepting for workers to engage with their full self.


What hasn’t changed is the heart of management, making things happen through other peopleNowadays, managers have to make things happen in a far more complicated, ambiguous, and challenging world — a world where the value created for customers comes directly from people.


If workers’ knowledge, ideas, enthusiasm, and effort are the Value Zone, it is then an observable fact that today’s workers own their production means. This is unlike the industrial worker of old who used machinery and factory facilities as the raw materials to do their work.


So it becomes readily apparent that today, workers choose how much they will engage based not on just salary. Fulfillment, happiness, challenge, and the level of satisfaction they receive from the contribution they make play a larger role in the context of work today.  


The New Context

What does management look like in this new context? In the old days, workers used their hands while managers presumably were in place because of their intellect. The assumption that managers were in place due to higher intelligence led to workers being labeled as “subordinates.”

Today, however, we know better. There are few if any subordinates. We have associates and team members — but no subordinates. The mechanic servicing the McLaren Senna knows infinitely more about the $900,000 vehicle’s performance condition than the manager of the shop. How could that mechanic be deemed ‘subordinate’?

It is more than just a polite gesture to refer to an employee as an associate or team member. It’s a functional reality. This gets to the crux of what management is today. Management is truly now the new leadership.


We no longer manage people like things.  Today we lead people. To maximize people’s performance, we need managers to become leaders and capitalize on workers’ strengths, talents, knowledge, and ideas.


So how do managers create an environment that will motivate today’s “knowledge worker”? We know it has to be open and accepting for workers to engage with their full selves. But where to begin?


Of course, we will always need top-level leaders operating and influencing beyond organizational jurisdiction. But we also need leader-managers who create breakthroughs at the Value Zone.


Management is the new leadership points to today.. there are managers, and there are managers who lead


Here are 5 things that managers who lead do:

1.Shift the energy of your team!

  •  With composure, increase, and elevate your communications.
  •  Share your higher perspective.
  •  Calm the anxiety with your increased presence and apparent commitment.
  •  Neutralize the teardown effect of uncertainty and anxiety.
  •  Shift the energy of your team toward purpose. You can’t just remove the deconstructive nature of negativity without replacing it with something.
  •  Drive the conversation with purpose, why are you there?
  •  Strategically use each day to keep your organizational purpose in front of your team members.
  •  Talk about your mission!
  •  Get them excited about growing and serving your clients, customers, and stakeholders.
  •  Share the growth you see and the future you envision. When your team has a growth mindset, it’s only natural that your organization will grow.

There will always be uncertainty. But when you demonstrate resolute certainty in your commitment to your team, anxiety drops, morale rises, and team members take note and follow your lead.

2. Manage progress, not people

Managers are only deemed successful when they achieve results — results that come from working with people. The only way people do extraordinary things is by focusing on their strengths and possibilities. Managers set the stage for this focus.


On any given day, your team’s efforts will be influenced by a mix of perceptions, emotions, and motivations that can either pull them up to a higher performance or drag them down. Setbacks can send team spirit spiraling downward to the point where frustration and even disgust take over.


Managers have tremendous influence in promoting daily progress by ensuring team members are in an environment that enables them to make steady progress and maintain momentum. Avoid the toxicity of high pressure, punitive, and judgmental measures that constrain momentum.


Instead, set clear goals for meaningful work. Provide autonomy and promote ownership of the outcomes. Nourish your team’s efforts through affiliation, respect, encouragement, and by minimizing daily hassles.


3. Don’t micromanage

Associates hate being micromanaged. To say or imply that someone needs to be managed is a bit of an insult or a put-down — as though they are underperforming, and your ‘management’ will somehow make them perform.

When you micromanage, trust is not visible to your associates. When trust is cloudy, your associates are asking, doesn’t he/she trust me? Worse, it shows up in their attitude and performance.

Give people autonomy, space, and freedom and offer advicecoaching, and encouragement.


4. Use influence, not power

No one likes a pompous manager. Rather than relying on the short-term and limiting power of position, reap the long-term benefits that come from building trust and influence. If you use power, you’ll reduce engagement — and good people will leave you.

When you rely on your position’s external power, you not only expose weakness in yourself, you also build weakness in others by forcing them to acquiesce. You stifle growth and the potential of individual and unique contributions.

Ultimately, the entire relationship is weakened. Defensiveness and low trust ensue, and potential for cooperation is lost, smothered by negative emotion. Fight the imprudent impulse to command; instead, invest in the higher, more refined skills of finesse, influence, and persuasion. Along with patience, these are the building blocks of increased engagement.


5. Focus on what is right, not who is right

Associates rely on managers to create an impartial environment, where everyone has the same opportunities based on merit. Don’t take sides. Use conflict to demonstrate your commitment to organizational success.

Model a higher perspective that lifts others from their petty preoccupations and carries them above the fray. Be a trailblazer who guides the upward purpose of your team.

A good manager’s unique and distinct actions create ripples that increase and spread, delivering ever-increasing impact that can be felt within teams and among teams.

However, the most significant impact from managers who lead is felt throughout the industry as a unique and distinct competitive advantage that is difficult, if not impossible, for others to duplicate.


Managing today is much more complicated and wide open to criticism. It is unpredictable and fraught with modern-day challenges. But good managers — managers who lead — know that it is filled with opportunities to make a difference.


Hold up the vision for what your team can become and involve them with what is possible. When your team sees your certainty and your commitment, their uncertainty will vaporize. You will be amazed at what your team will do to give life to your vision. They will work feverishly to maintain the high opinion you have of them. And the more they see your commitment to them, the harder they will work to hang on to your regard. That’s not management — that’s leadership!


© Brian Braudis 2020, All rights reserved

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