What would happen if you thought of management as a process that is worked out through effective relationship? What would you do differently if you approached leadership as a relationship that seeks to empower the effective ownership and execution of process?
The shift required of leaders / managers to embrace the essence of this approach is not subtle at all; it will challenge some of our fundamental beliefs and behaviours as leaders.
It would imply abandoning any reliance on command and control styles. It would mean that we place a far greater emphasis on our ability to build effective relationships than on the position we hold, the knowledge we have or the skills we are adept at. It would mean that we view authority as something we exercise on behalf of those we lead rather than as something we have over those we have a management role toward.
We would have to become skilled in the art of effective conversations – and learn what kind of conversation is required in different contexts. One preferred approach would be to coach rather than always tell others what to do and how to do it. We would need to learn how to support development in those we lead so that they can truly deliver on the processes they own. We would need to learn how to confront when they do not, but to do so in a way that ensures that they take up the accountability for the solution – and in a way that they do not doubt our support.
This is an approach that means we have to ensure that we are trustworthy and are ready and able to extend trust to those we lead. That rarest quality of leadership – humility – is a core characteristic to embrace if we are to even begin to make this shift. It is certainly one we will need to guard if we are to maintain the right balance of boldness, self-confidence and unselfish leadership of the people we want to envision and engage.