Are you a leader or a manager?

Recently I worked with a large marketing team at a well known Silicon Valley brand. It struck me, as we were working through personalities and business challenges, that the issue of management versus leadership is becoming even more critical to an organization’s success.

cairn_beachIn the last decade, marketing has shifted from a push approach — where you push out your message via direct mail and other types of interruptive advertising — to one where you pull in your audience — content marketing and crowdsourcing. As leaders, we need to think about how we motivate our teams. Are we using push or pull tactics?

It’s easy to be involved in the things we do, the “content” of our day: writing reports, attending meetings, responding to emails. The challenge is to see the bigger picture. I believe our focus should be on how are we being. Are we distracted when talking with our colleagues? Are we feeling stress while going about our daily activities?

In my opinion, you can’t have leadership presence unless you look at the whole. Burnout and stress erode our physical capacity. And physical capacity is the ante you put in in order to play the game. Without it, you simply can’t operate your business or perform in your role. Without leadership presence, where we integrate our emotions with our mental focus, we’re doomed to push — using management tactics to manage things, people, outcomes. How much easier would it be to achieve a desired goal by motivating and engaging others toward a common goal? In other words, how much easier would it be to pull others in our vision?

Nothing is more emotionally charged than having to deliver a difficult message. Last week when coaching a client, I helped him prepare to deliver an evaluation chronicling poor job performance. HR had instructed him to remove all emotion from the discussion, telling him to stick to just the facts. My question was: “If you don’t meet yourself and your employee’s emotional space, how can you be an authentic leader?”

My advice was to acknowledge the emotion. It doesn’t mean you won’t deliver the same message; it simply alters the quality of how you deliver that message. That’s juice of leadership. By integrating emotion, you can be wise, empathetic, and confident. The message is delivered differently and thus more effectively.

So, I challenge you to acknowledge your emotions at work. How can you tap into that wisdom as you lead? Where can you pull rather than push?

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