The Leadership of Letting Go, Part 1

The Leadership Think Tank group on Linked In has been discussing the difference between leadership and management for several months now. The discussion shows no signs of running out of steam.

One fundamental difference between leadership and management revolves around (the need for) control. The tools of management benefit from control over the situation or the resources. They are very useful in the right context. This is different to leadership, where we are faced with dealing with situations over which we have little or no control. Big problems in business life occur when people insist on applying management principles to situations over which they have no control. (Problems can also occur, when people don’t make use of these management principles and tools in area where they are useful.)

This need for being in control is deep-rooted in most people and, when our control is threatened, stress levels rise and the brain begins to function less well. Our best friend in problem-solving is an open mind, one that can see patterns and possibilities. When our need for control is under threat, the brain tends to close: we see fewer options. This, in turn, can trigger panic.

One way to identify, in general, situations in which you might be attempting inappropriately to exert control is to notice who “pushes your buttons” in which setting. In the next installment, I’ll explore a more specific model for identifying issues around control.

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