Leadership and Management
Leadership and management are very important roles in any organization. The words leadership and management are often used interchangeably, but there is a huge difference between a leader and a manager. Leadership and management must go hand in hand. Leadership is a “one-to-many” relationship; manager is a one-to-one relationship.
Vision, Alignment, and Execution
Leaders have three fundamental responsibilities that really matter: craft a vision of new possibilities for the future through exploration, boldness and testing assumptions; build alignment by communicating with clarity, engaging in dialogue, and providing inspiration so everyone is moving in the same direction; and champion execution through momentum, structure and feedback, to enable the group to capitalize on its talents while making the vision a reality.
Leaders ensure strategies and people are in place to make the vision a reality; managers guide the day-to-day work of execution.Leaders are supposed to guide and direct, deal with incoming issues, monitor budgets and, perhaps above all, inspire and motivate their team. Their job is demanding as it is, but there are also a number of particular challenges leaders often have to deal with. Let’s take a look at the most common issues.
The Three Main Factors
There are three factors that influence the challenges that leadership faces. First, there are the external challenges. These include such things as economic, social and political issues. Next, there are the internal challenges. These occur when leaders are unable to face up to their own challenges and struggle with being the role model that others need.
“Sometimes, what seems to be an advantage may present a challenge as well. A leader who is extremely decisive may alienate followers by never consulting them, or by consistently ignoring their input. A leader who is terrific at developing relationships with others in the organization may be unable to tell someone when they are not doing their job. Some characteristics can be double-edged swords, positive in some circumstances and negative in others. The real challenge is in knowing the difference, and adapting your behavior accordingly.”
Recognizing the Challenges of Leadership by Phil Rabinowitz
Finally, there are the challenges that occur from leadership itself. These include the responsibility of being able to motivate themselves and others. A leader actually works for the organization and their team, and must be able to demonstrate this in everything that they do.
Challenge 1 – Personality Issues
People often forget that leaders have their own unique personalities, their own temperament, judgment and maturity. Whether or not this is a shortfall depends on an individual’s ability to overcome some of these issues and to understand that their own personality may sometimes get in the way.
“In addition, perceptions of temperament, judgment and maturity are harder and take longer to overcome if you are perceived as lacking in them. These can be overcome if the organization/executive sponsor is willing to give you time to grow past the perceived or actual shortfall.”
8 Common Problems Executives Face – What Are Some Challenges of Leadership?
Challenge 2 – Inability to Challenge
The role of a leader is to challenge the status quo in the organization, making sure it is as efficient as possible. This means that they must challenge the foundation of the company, its destination, its commitment, its model, its information, its structure, its culture, its talent, its complexity and its leadership as well.
“The truth is most leaders are skilled at challenging others, but are woefully inadequate when it comes to challenging themselves, or allowing others to challenge them. When leaders hold themselves to a higher standard of rigor, discipline, accountability, and transparency everyone wins.” 10 Things Every Leader Should Challenge by Mike Myatt
Challenge 3 – Gathering Data
One of the main roles of a leader is to gather relevant data. Not only should a leader seek others’ advice, but they should conduct formal research to gather the data they need. This research can be from other teams or external organizations, data on certain project and so on. A leader has to show that they are knowledgeable in various areas in order to be successful in their job. This means that they know what has already been done and what sort of conclusions can be drawn from there and applied. Leaders need to look beyond their own thinking and test assumptions.
“Data is critical when making business decisions. Business leaders don’t just do things; they attempt to do the right things. Although it’s difficult to ever be 100 percent certain that a decision will be the right one, using data to guide decisions can help get closer and closer to that goal. Internal data (sales data, employee data) as well as external data (about competitors, about the industry, about economic changes) can provide important insights for business leaders.” Business Leadership Issues by Leigh Richards, Demand Media
Challenge 4 – Getting the Vision Right
Being a leader is all about creating and demonstrating the right vision. A vision is a condition that is imagined—a future state in which the organization or team creates something of unquestionable value, serves all customers in unparalleled fashion, or reinvents the way it does business. Getting this right is incredibly difficult, because it requires a number of key components to be included. The visions needs to be able energize people and motivate them, be meaningful to the lives of team members, demonstrate what is understood by excellence within the organization, manage to bridge the period between now and the future and go beyond the status quo. Crafting the vision should be a shared process that combines contributions from leaders at all levels. Visions are generally the result of ongoing efforts over a period of time by a larger group.
“As important as it is to know what vision is, it is also important to know what vision is not. Nanus (1992) states that vision is not “a prophecy, a mission, factual, true or false, static, [or] a constraint on actions.” Fullan (1992) warns against visions that blind and states that there is a tendency for “over attachment to particular philosophies or innovations.” Vision, Leadership, and Change
Challenge 5 – Loneliness
Usually, new and emerging leaders actually come from within the organization, working their way up the corporate ladder. Up until the point where they achieve the status of leader, they usually feel like a part of the workforce. However, as soon as they get to the top, they need to adapt their communication style and they feel that they are no longer liked in the way they were before. Suddenly, they are the “boss” at the top, who has no friends at the bottom, no matter how much of an open door policy they actually have. However, facing these issues of loneliness is actually a good sign.
“The good news is that leadership issues are evidence that one is indeed leading. If you are a leader and don’t notice any change in the relationship with your organization, you might begin to wonder if you’re really leading.”
However, good it may be, that does not mean it is comfortable. Hence, when you reach the status of a leader, you have to answer a number of questions first. For instance, how do you find out the information that reaches you has not been changed or diluted, and who can you go to for advice? You also have to think about your own motivation and what you can do if you have your own personal problems. These are but a few of the questions you have to have answers before you even start the job, otherwise you may end up a failed leader.