For anyone with management responsibilities it can be a challenge to work out exactly what it is you should be doing. This is especially true when you are new into such a role. There are all kinds of books, lectures and texts that exist to try to define what these things are and what makes a good one. But it is clear that there are very few things that everyone will agree on.
My outlook on what a leadership role involves has changed over the years. When I first had any kind of management responsibility I had the view that I had to be the leader. This entailed taking the person by the hand and leading them along. It was about them seeing the world from my perspective and I would be the one to hand out words of wisdom and gems to help them. As you can imagine this was not how it worked out and it was a naive view of the relationships that exist in the workplace.
As I look back on that era I now realise that it is a very limiting situation that would not help to develop innovation and creativity. In essence it was about creating a set of ‘clones’ – definitely a scary thought – who all approached problems and issues in the same way that I would. It was built around control but also an odd view that people were just waiting to soak up the world I helped to create around them.
I have been reflecting on the situation as I see it now some years on. I am by no means saying I have it all sorted, or that I am the best manager, leader, boss whatever term you want to use. But I do see the role to be more to act as a guide. Bringing people new ideas, new ways of looking at things, opening things up to them that they may not have been in contact with. This then allows them to take their skills and experience and come up with new ideas, to be more creative and to develop themselves which will always benefit the organisation.
This puts some additional pressures on the manager or leader. They have no time to rest. Whatever their skill or profession they need to be on top of the latest thinking, the developments and new ideas. Only if they are doing this every day can they help to signpost staff to new ways of working or interesting ideas. I also extend this to networking and making sure people step into new worlds and new areas of business so that they come away with new perspectives. In such a connected and developed world achieving this has been made less stressful. Acting as teacher, curator and guide is now the challenge for managers in 2014.