Leaders, Champions, and Managers
Chris and Fred discuss what a leader, champion and manager are. Many textbooks, guidebooks and so-called ‘domain experts’ tell us what (for example) a ‘reliability leader’ is. In some cases the ‘reliability leader’ is someone who has little influence, and is more of an ad hoc ‘doer.’ Not a leader. Why is this? Listen to this podcast to hear more about this?
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss
- Who is a ‘leader’? Well, it is not (by default) the person who has leadership qualities. It is the person who has executive power and controls resources. And the fact that they may be a poor leader doesn’t mean they are not the leader. It is just that their poor leadership places the onus on their subordinates to pick up any slack. But this won’t produce anything close to ‘optimal’ outputs.
- Can there be a ‘reliability leader’? What do you think? The main issue that Chris and Fred identify is that many organizations designate someone as the ‘reliability leader’ in a way that gives the ‘visage’ of relevance or importance. But … the so-called ‘reliability leader’ often has no power, no authority and no resources. So they quickly evolved into a ‘reliability doer’ who provide a service. Ad hoc tasks done here and there. But only if, the organization asks them to become involved.
- Reliability gardiners. Sounds cool! Fred talks about how (in one case) ‘reliability experts’ … who called themselves ‘gardiners’ … would create ‘local champions’ and ‘local experts’ in programs and groups. They quickly became ‘leaders’ in their domain. But this was accompanied by unwavering support from the organization leaders. So can we call them reliability leaders? Or was the organizational leadership team the ‘true’ reliability leaders because they knew the importance of their gardiners?
- But we need lots of leaders in an organization to work together. So can we call any of these people ‘reliability leaders?’ One thing is for certain is that if the ‘organizational leader’ doesn’t care about reliability, than any lower-level leadership will not overcome that problem.
- This does not mean no one can show ‘reliability leadership.’ Far from it. Everyone can. And in certain cases – must.
- And then there are managers … Who aren’t leaders. A manager takes resources allocated to him or her and work out the most efficient way to realize some goal. But it is the leader who comes up with the vision that drives these goals. Many business ‘leaders’ are actually people who excelled at ‘management’ who were the only ones left when it came time for promotion.
- What about the ‘reliability graybeard?’ The sage who everyone goes to for guidance? If this person is recognized for their excellence in the domain … great! And if senior leaders support this informal relationship where the ‘graybeard’ must be consulted to make a good product … great! For now. Your success is based on your ability to maintain this informal relationship. Which is inherently unstable if your organization is not formally set up this way. Because you have a competing priority that will come completely dominant (one way or another) if a single person leaves your organization.
So what do you think?
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