Monday, 15 August 2011

Leadership stuff

I was recently at an excllent seminar run by Jill Garett, Assistant Chief Executive of LT Consulting. She is a very unassuming person and I didn't know much about her until after the seminar. Her reference to a bit of research done when working for Gallup was interesting, but following my own research post-seminar, I realised that when she did the work she was Managing Director of Gallup......enough on the credentials.

I was reminded of some of the key issues that were discussed in the seminar today following a conversation with two colleagues which touched on the inherent difficulties of people management.

One of the key things that Jill was clear about was that people managers are not leaders. Leaders are visionary, they are strategic, and will often not be as good at people management. It was obvious when she explained it; and reflecting on my own current situation I wondered what this might mean for myself, but also what it meant for the library system that I am a part of. Are we all doing too much, trying to be all things (or a lot of things) to all men? Do we expect too much from our leaders? Do our leaders/managers understand how crucial people management is and how difficult it will be to operate at both strategic and people-focused levels?It seems to be very difficult to find a balance.

A memorable example that Jill gave was of a team that she worked with to improve productivity (my 'cost of service' ears pricked up at this). She asked them what it was they most liked doing in their job - the answer wasn't difficult. When asked why they spent so little time doing it, the response was 'admin'/'paperwork'. The challenge was issued! Look at all the processes that make up the working day and aim to be more efficient, effective and reduce the
time taken over the tiresome jobs, allowing more time for the preferred tasks.

It will come as no great surprise that these workers fairly soon doubled the time that they had available for the pleasant, motivating, enjoyable and fulfilling tasks. I thought this was such a lesson - for individuals and also for small teams, but why not for big organisations as well? We can feel hard pressed on every side financially, but with a bit of ingenuity and 'people management' we can do more with less and by all accounts earn good will along the way.

A final thought that jumps out at me wherever I am these days - including a fabulous trip to the 'other' place earlier this week - is that communication is the absolute KEY to anything - change, maintaining the status quo, you name it, it's essential. Of course MY form of communication may not be the same as YOURS - but that's another story.


  1. Thought-provoking post! Thank you for making the distinction between leadership and people management - I think that has helped clarify some thoughts I've had about that recently.

  2. The two features are not distinct though. No point being a good "leader" if you don't engage with and motivate those whom you are supposed to lead. Your point about communication is spot on - it's important that staff understand where they are being led, and that their advice is valued and heeded when implementing objectives.