One of the most fundamental concepts that a leader, or someone going into leadership, should understand is this – leadership is all about change. While both managers and leaders have their place, the difference between the two is that managers focus on making complex things simple and leaders focus on change. So, for those looking into a leadership role, it is important to understand that they will be leading change.
This seems fairly straightforward, but it’s important to note that change can be painful for many of those involved. So, the transitive property looks like this:
Leadership is change. > Change is painful. > Leadership causes pain.
In order to move the organization forward, if someone is unwilling to cause someone else pain they can’t lead. Period.
To successfully execute change and still survive, an important concept to note in leadership is that, as a leader, you are not your “role.” That is, there is a difference between my role as a leader and me as a person. This comes into play when you are struggling with those who push back against change. Many people fear or try to ignore change because they’re used to doing things a certain way. In some cases, people have become successful based on doing things a certain way for a period of time. When these individuals are challenged by a leader who encourages change, those leaders are sometimes faced with insults and pushback. However, these comments and insults are in response to the source of their pain – which is change driven by the leader (role).
Likewise, when a leader is working with a group of individuals who continually praise and encourage them, laughing at their jokes or stories, these actions are happening toward the “role.” In most cases, these employees or coworkers aren’t necessarily enjoying you as much as they’re enjoying joking around with “the boss.” If you aren’t sure you believe that, change jobs and wait to see how many keep calling you.
To learn more about the risks, rewards and excitement of leadership, sign up for Transformational Leadership! The Center for Management Development offers a variety of certificate programs for those interested in Wichita leadership training. We also offer onsite training and certificate services throughout the state of Kansas and the country.
Brian Rawson, MBA, holds a B.S. degree in Organizational Psychology from Brigham Young University (1986) and an MBA from the University of Virginia (1993). Following twenty five years in consulting, management, and executive roles in the corporate world, seven of those years spent in Japan, he now pursues his passion of teaching in order to help organizations and individuals achieve profitable growth.