Are You a Leader or a Manager?

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President Ike Eisenhower once demonstrated the difference between leadership and management to his cabinet by putting a piece of string in a straight line on the conference table. He then asked one of the attendees to put his finger on one end of the string and push it. The string, of course, bunched up in an ugly bundle. He then asked the man to pull the string with his finger on one end. The string straightened up in a nice neat line and followed the finger across the table. "This", said Ike "is the difference between managing and leading."

I love this visual example and use it often. Managing people is often pushing them to do what you want them to do. People resist being pushed and if you manage this way you usually end up with a chaotic organization. Leadership, on the other hand, is pulling people with you. When you pull people they usually follow and following the leader is what we really want out of our team.

How do you get people to follow you rather than resist? The two words that will help you the most are Honesty and Integrity. Have a clear vision of where the company is going. As corny as it sometimes sounds, a good, clear and well communicated mission statement wouldn't hurt either. Encourage your staff to set career and personal goals. Let them know when you are proud of them. Be interested in how your team thinks things can improve and let them express those ideas.

Mike Shannon is the owner of Shamrock Business Coaching, a coaching practice that helps business owners increase profits. You can visit Shamrock Business Coaching on the web at:

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