Last year I underwent Career counseling through my employer as I was becoming angry and frustrated with my position. I learned a lot about myself and others through this exercise. One of the things getting me into trouble with my boss was that I was more strategically focused on the bigger picture and not as task orientated as he was. He wanted me to focus locally and I was looking at my job from a higher, corporate level.
Through this career counseling, I learned that I had stronger characteristics of being a leader, than as a manager. Before that, I thought being a leader and being a manager were the same but I learned that the characteristics of each are extremely different. Some individuals can be both, and these folks have a combination of behaviors (Changing Minds, 2009).
From the Coach for Growth, 2007 publication, they identified these subjects and the typical characteristics of both the leader and the manager:
Subject, Leader, Manager
Essence, Change, Stability
Focus, Leading people, Managing work
Have, Followers, Subordinates
Horizon, Long-term, Short-term
Seeks, Vision, Objectives
Approach, Sets direction, Plans detail
Decision, Facilitates, Makes
Power Personal, Charisma, Formal authority
Appeal to, Heart, Head
Energy, Passion, Control
Dynamic, Proactive, Reactive
Persuasion, Sell, Tell
Style, Transformational, Transactional
Likes, Striving, Action
Wants, Achievement, Results
Risk, Takes, Minimizes
Rules, Breaks, Makes
Conflict, Uses, Avoids
Direction, New Roads, Existing roads
Truth, Seeks, Establishes
Concern, What is right, Being right
Credit , Gives, Takes
Blame, Takes, Blames
If you are finding yourself at odds with your boss, you might want to look at this list for both your own characteristics, and his or hers.
If you find you are at opposite sides of the spectrum, take note of what is important to your boss, as this will be critical in helping understand where they are coming from. In my case, I worked for a strong manager.
He had hired me to change his organization and help him make it better. The characteristics that I brought to the table were my ability to give credit to others, my transformational proactive approach and my ability to give vision to new roads, passionately. Those didn’t cause problems although we had debates on my approach on occasion. He didn’t like the fact that I would assign his managers actions without consulting him but we worked through those issues.
The things that caused riffs between us were that I was focused on what was right, and he was focused on being right. I was looking at long term, and he was focused on short.
About the same time, I underwent a 360 leadership review, where I asked my boss, his boss and several other bosses and significant peers, I had had, to rate me so that I could get feedback on my strengths and weaknesses.
The categories in that survey were adaptability, analytical thinking, business innovation, business judgment, communication skills, customer focus, developing talent, focusing on results, forward thinking, listening, strategic leadership, teamwork and ethics. My strengths according to my peers were business innovation, ethics and customer focus.
I scored the highest on ‘champions change and continuous improvement as business opportunities’. That was good because that was what I was being paid to do as a Continuous Improvement Leader. I also came back with positive scores on “delivers messages with personal energy, enthusiasm and conviction, assumes new and difficult challenges and manages them as opportunities, models ethical behavior, and ensures customer commitments are met with quality and services.
In the comment section, my primary manager responded that he loved my enthusiasm and that contributed to my ability to bring people together to solve problems. He and the most of the others said “my biggest opportunity for improvement was focused on my emails and the length of them.” I’m a writer and tend to focus on words, but not everyone appreciates the details like I do. What was funny to me, in spite of this, was that I was rated as a very strong communicator and mostly, I used emails to communicate. In reaction to this feedback, I concentrated on making my emails shorter, and used bullets to focus the reader on the main topics.
Understanding yourself, your characteristics, and what motivates you is really important to understanding the dynamics of a relationship with your peers and your boss. If you find that you are unhappy, it might mean that it is because what drives you and motivates you is completely different than those around you. If you find this to be the case, it might be time to move on. Every organization needs a balance of leaders, managers and followers, subordinates. Understanding where you fall in the mix can be extremely helpful for long term career happiness and success.
UTC Leadership 360 Feedback Report
Coach for Growth, 2007
Changing Minds, 2009