Effective leaders need big picture

Published 12:36 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can a person be an exceptional leader without being a good manager?

Absolutely! An individual can be an effective leader, yet poor manager and vice versa. I have lived this in my own career and have witnessed it many times.

It is critical to establish the right strategic vision and have the processes and systems in place to deliver against that vision.

Effective leaders should drive big picture thinking and play a leading role in developing the long term direction for the organization.

Then, importantly, they need to establish both the working parameters and allow the amount of freedom necessary for skilled managers to succeed in implementation.

Strong leaders effectively align people in terms of establishing clear roles and responsibilities to ensure that managers have the resources and information they need for the firm to be successful.

Another trait indicative of strong leaders is the willingness to allow those around them to make mistakes.

In my view, great learning can come from mistakes. However, these mistakes need to be controlled to cause the least amount of damage.

For example, in new product launches this can be accomplished through tightly controlled test markets.

Leaders can council and advise if they believe something is not correct. However, it provides tremendous growth opportunities if subordinates or teams are allowed to take some risks.

In contrast, good managers need to be organized and detailed oriented. They need to understand the vision and how it impacts their area of responsibility and develop plans to get the work accomplished.

How does your organization stack up? Are there effective leaders and competent managers? Are strong leaders being indentified and developed for future roles?

Understanding the capabilities that exist inside a company can have a dramatic impact on long term success.