Movement or Progress?

It seems that many people think that they can be a leader, and that leadership involves some minimum set of "getting people to do what you want them to do." Unfortunately, such thinking is fuzzy at best, and very distant from what leadership actually entails.

During conversations yesterday, a friend (who, it may be noted, is one of those folks who participated with me in those tremendous and synergistic projects I mentioned earlier) mentioned the challenge that so many corporate managers seem to have differentiating between movement and progress. The classic example is that of a "worker bee" at an organization being asked to spend a certain amount of time--perhaps even during certain hours--at their desk. It seems to not matter whether or not they are able to get specific tasks done or goals advanced. Only that they show up, sit down, and shut up (effectively).


What is it about "being there" that has a typical manager feeling like they are somehow leading, while the typical team member feels confined and frustrated? The perhaps obvious answer is that it is far easier to see whether or not someone is present than it is to take the time and effort necessary to determine whether or not real progress is being made. It is this distinction that separates leaders from impostors.

If you are a leader (or are growing in that direction), it is your primary task to keep the team's objectives clearly in sight, and to be in action regarding the set of activities necessary to keep the team moving in the right direction. Furthermore, you need to be actively ensuring that the team members understand the objectives, have the resources that they need to accomplish their activities, and are doing so within an environment that enhances their chances for success.

Stop trying to control others! It never works! Instead, work with them to develop that environment, keep communication open so that everyone is on the same page, and don't withhold the resources that are needed for accomplishment. After all, everyone wants to be successful in all things! Our job is to help them make it to the celebration of success.