Blog: Manager to Leader - Transformational Leadership Programs


Manager to Leader - Transformational Leadership Programs

L&D should position transformational programs as development processes, rather than change events
Manager to Leader - Transformational Leadership Programs

Change is inevitable and change in the present times is very fast. A brand needs to act before the customer shouts for an idea or asks for a solution for his problem. Hence in today’s world a manager needs to be a leader in the competitive and fast changing world, and be innovative to be able to retain his customer. Management and leadership skills are not mutually exclusive; they are complementary. Managers lead and leaders manage. The two functions, however, reflect different --at times overlapping --sets of skills.

A new leadership paradigm is emerging with an inexorable shift away from one- way, hierarchical, organization-centric communication toward two-way, network-centric, participatory and collaborative leadership styles. Most of all, a new mindset seems necessary, apart from new skills and knowledge. If the mindset does not allow and support change, however, it won’t work (Grady McGonagill and Tina Doerffer -The Leadership Implications of the Evolving Web, Bertelsmann Stiftung leadership Series).

U.S. scholars John Gardner, Warren Bennis, and John Kotter noted six key differences between managers and leaders:

  1. Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.
  2. Managers maintain the status quo, while leaders move others to committed change.
  3. Managers follow established rules up-and-down the "chain of command:' while leaders challenge the status quo.
  4. Managers control financial human and technological resources, while leaders enable others to act with enhanced creativity, enthusiasm, and initiative.
  5. Managers establish timetables to monitor work and, if necessary, coerce subordinates, while leaders lead others to lead themselves.
  6. Managers stress consistency and reliability, while leaders develop strategies to inspire a shared vision for the future and align stakeholders with the larger vision.

The L&D team has a crucial role in preparing leaders

The nature of the challenges that managers are facing are rapidly changing; however, the methods that we are using to develop them were staying the same. Marshall Goldsmith has commented, “Many of our leadership programs are based on the faulty assumption, that if we show people what to do, they can automatically do it.” However, there is a difference between knowing what “good” leadership looks like and being able to do it. We may be arriving at a point where we face diminishing returns from teaching managers more about leadership, when they still have little understanding about what is required for real development to occur.

There is an inherent need to change leadership programs from “content events” to “development processes” in which managers take ownership of their own development. All senior managers engaged in a process in which they learned the principles of development, then put those principles into practice on themselves. Only after they have had experience developing themselves with the new tools, do they start coaching their team members to also apply them. Build more collective rather than individual leadership in the network. Focus on vertical development, not just horizontal. Transfer greater ownership of development back to the people. While leadership development communities currently exist with this aim, many limit their capacity for innovation by having excessively homogenous team members. This limits the effectiveness of these collectives, both in terms of the similarity of the ideas they bring as well the implementation of those ideas, which may fail to take into account the different values and priorities of stakeholders who will have to engage in any new practices. Greater innovative breakthroughs in the future may come from networks of people who can bring together and recombine different ideas and concepts from diverse domains.

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Topics: Leadership, #ExpertViews

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