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Is every Manager a Leader?

Aug 17, 2007
Top management sometimes plans extensively for strategic changes in an organization, but places very little emphasis on how to handle the transition from the old way to the new. When this happens, the new goal, system, organization or project is simply presented as a direction or decision to a work team. When the team has not been consulted, this comes as a shock. The change is announced and implementation is left to the group. When this happens to you, as the manager involved, you are put on the spot. You need to produce results but you can only do this when your team is fully behind the changes. Top management too often considers implementation of the change a footnote to their plan. Your work team may consider the same change as a crisis of the first magnitude.

Most of the difficulties manifest themselves in this transition period. This is where people get stuck. They become confused, anxious, angry, and often unproductive. Your job as manager is to move your team through change in the smoothest possible way, regardless of how well or poorly the change was introduced.

Gaining control by giving it up
A major lesson in leadership is that you can not move through change and keep previous levels of tight control over your staff. The lesson is to gain control over change by giving it up.

In effective organizations, people share basic goals and communicate clearly, directly and regularly about what they are doing. Each person goes about his or her work with greater flexibility than is common in less effective organizations. If you manage an effective organization you will benefit during change by exercising a new type of leadership. You will be less of a controller and more of a coordinator. Only you and your staff together can make things happen. You must learn how to delegate intelligently some of your control to your team.

As a manager, you have special responsibilities to maintain strong upward lines of communication. If you keep the information you receive from above to yourself, or feel you are the only one who knows how to handle change, this will not be helpful in implementing changes. Your staff will not learn, will not have the information they need to make changes and will not feel they share in the change unless you involve them by giving up some of your control.

Power and influence
Most of the major organizational changes you will experience in your career will not be initiated by you. You may be able to anticipate change or see it coming (for example, the need for new technology); however, most of the time change will be handed to you as a fait accompli. When this happens, a typical reaction, regardless of level, is an attitude of helplessness. What can I do? or Has anyone taken us into account? can lead to inactivity and frustration and workers will spend their time bemoaning the change, dreaming of the old days, or criticizing the judgment of top management.
Your task as change agent is to direct energy away from the feeling of powerlessness, and security from the past, and towards seeing the opportunities of the future. You can do this by calling attention to the ways in which your team can make a difference.
About the Author
Marcia Granger MCC Leadership Coach helps those in new leadership positions create the perfect work/life balance. Find out how having the right Leadership tips and tools can change your life at http://www.1stleadershipcourse.com
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