Too many women still confuse leadership with management. (Not you, I’m sure!) Management is about the systems that keep the trains running. Leadership is about the people who create the systems. And you can’t lead people the same way you manage systems. (Well, you can, and it happens all the time, but you’d be sadly unsuccessful.)
Leadership takes a consistent and persistent investment of time and energy in building personal relationships. Lois P. Frankel, one of my favorite experts on women leaders, explains why:
“I’ve always believed it’s not that hard to get people to do what you want if you use enough muscle. What results, however, is subversive compliance — people do exactly what you ask and nothing more or different, even when the situation calls for it. Good leaders don’t aim for compliance; they aim for commitment. Committed people will go the extra mile, support decisions made by the leader, and act in the best interests of the organization even when no one is watching over them. And the way to get that commitment begins with the individual relationships you build with those upon whom you depend to get the job done — whether that job is a corporation, on a volunteer committee, or in a nonprofit organization.” (Lois P. Frankel, See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work.)
Frankel goes on to suggest ways that you can build those relationships that cultivate commitment:
- Have “doorway” conversations.
- Learn about people’s aspirations.
- Invite one new person each week to lunch.
- Ask for input in an area of someone’s expertise.
- Join in on after-hours events.
- Notice and comment on behavioral changes.
- Be human.
The question remains: How will you integrate these leadership tactics into your work life?