Management

What You Should Know About Leadership and Management Roles

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In my career, I have held management positions where I was actually a leader, and in leadership roles where I was in a management position. As I reflected this week, I wondered, what is the difference?  Can someone be a Manager and a Leader?  Or does it have to be mutually exclusive?

Carl Binder, in his article "Integrating Organizational-Cultural Values with Performance Management," (Binder, 2016) writes that it is actually "work output" that defines the role (he takes it a step farther to define work output as the metric for defining company culture, but that will be an article for another day, so stay tuned...)

"Work output"  (Binder, 2016; www.sixboxes.com) can be seen as analogous to Thomas Gilbert's* concept of "accomplishments (Gilbert, 1978)."  It is the product of the behavior, or the goal of what the person needs to accomplish.  The following outlines the differences in work output between a manager and a leader.

1) Leadership

For a leader, work output must be defined from a telescopic viewpoint.  In this job description, we are focused on the "big picture"--the vision of the company and how to incorporate that vision within the metrics of the business as a whole.  The leader focuses on the purpose of the business, and work output is focused on incorporating that purpose within everything that management and employees do in the day to day.

2) Management

The manager's work output can be defined from a microscopic viewpoint.  The manager is focused on the day to day operations, and making sure that everything from an operational standpoint is running smoothly.  In other words, widgets are made, staff are performing, and deliverables are shipped.

Can a leader be a manager and a leader at the same time?  From experience, I say yes, depending on the resources the leader has at their disposal.  If a leader is able to delegate, the microscopic work outputs can be moved to managers, leaving the leader time to think about the big picture and ways to constantly evolve the business; however, if the resources are not there, the leader must take on multiple hats.  This is possible as long as the leader can make time to take off the management hat, and put on the leadership hat, so that they can continue to focus on "big picture" projects.  A business will not be able to grow and scale unless it has managers and leaders...even if they are the same person.

References

Binder, C (2016). Integrating Organizational-Cultural Values with Performance Management. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 36(2-3), 185-201

Gilbert, T.F. (1978). Human competence: engineering worthy performance.  New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company

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How to Create Environments for Success to Maximize Learning Potential (Business Edition)

How do we create environments to maximize the learning potential of those around us?  Most behaviors are shaped from the environment that surrounds them, be it something that happens before the behavior occurs (antecedents), or something that happens after the behavior occurs (consequences).  Believe it or not, we can actually shape behavior to maximize learner potential if we are aware of the environmental factors that surround them, and then use that information to change the learner’s environment!

Take a business for example.  On any day, a manager can walk in to the office and observe many behaviors of their direct reports.  Some individuals may be typing on their computer, some may be holding a meeting in a conference room, and some may be copying or filing papers.  On the flip side, you may also have some individuals at their desk staring in to space, or surfing the internet instead of working.  All of these behaviors have been shaped in the particular environment of the office. 

Prior to shaping development in their direct reports, the manager should be aware of the environmental factors that surround the behavior.  The manager should collect information regarding the antecedents of behavior (those things that happen before the behavior occurs—can also include the physical space of the environment itself), and the consequences of behavior (the things that happen directly after the behavior occurs).  Based on those data, the manager can then come up with a development plan to help the direct report learn new behavior that would shape their development in their position. 

It is important that the manager share these data with the direct report, not just on an annual basis but on a weekly to monthly basis.  The direct report should also have a part in the development plan, and this plan should change at least quarterly to reflect their growth. 

Please Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

For more information on creating environments for success see Mager and Pipe's: Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna--How to Figure out Why People Aren't Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It 

For information on how to complete in depth behavior assessments see O'Neill and Horner's: Functional Assessment and Program Development

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How to Dissolve an Argument Like A Pro (Without Raising Your Voice)

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Why is it that we can run through multiple scenarios in our heads to provide perfectly reasonable and calm directives to fellow employees, direct reports, or even our own kids, yet when we are in front of a person who is visibly getting upset, we lose our cool and raise our voice?

It happens to be science….and a vicious social cycle.

Take the following parenting scenario as an example:

Parent: Sorry, Charlie, you can’t have the toy right now.

Charlie: But I really want it now.

Parent: You can play with it later.

Charlie: I WANT IT NOW!

Parent (yelling now): I SAID NO, AND THAT IS ENOUGH!!

Charlie: *cue the waterworks*

In that moment, we have two behaviors occurring, each interacting in a vicious social cycle.  Charlie’s yelling triggers the parent’s yelling, and as soon as the parent’s yelling happens, Charlie’s behavior immediately changes.  In that immediate behavior change, the parent’s behavior has effectively removed Charlie’s yelling from the present environment, and Charlie stopped arguing.  In this vicious social cycle, Charlie’s behavior decreases in the moment, and the parent’s behavior in the future is more likely to increase.  By decreasing Charlie’s yelling, the parent’s yelling is reinforced, and will continue in the future (For more information on this type of reinforcement, known as “negative reinforcement,” and operant conditioning see the following book: The Behavior of Organisms*, Skinner, 1938) ).

Take another example that is a scenario from the workplace:

Direct Report: I’d really like to talk to you about some issues I’ve been having with the project.

Manager/Supervisor: Sure, Tom, tell me what is going on?

Direct Report: I do not feel I have the support I need from management for resources needed to complete the project.

Manager/Supervisor (immediately defensive): Why not?!  We gave you three weeks to work on the project, and approved discretionary spending to get it done.  This is due in two days and you are telling me this now?!

Direct Report (raising voice): THIS IS NOT MY FAULT.  I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS THING FOR 60-80 HOURS A WEEK THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND I JUST CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE!

Manager/Supervisor (yelling): THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.  EITHER COMPLETE THE PROJECT, OR YOU CAN SEE YOURSELF OUT OF THIS OFFICE!

Direct Report: *storms out of the office*

Again, two behaviors are interacting!  The Direct Report is coming to the Manager with a problem, setting up for a stressful situation, and the Manager/Supervisor appears to feel attacked.  The Manager raises their voice, yells at the direct report, and there is an immediate change in behavior with the direct report storming out of the office.  This likely increases the manager’s behavior of yelling at direct reports in the future because of this experience, and again, his behavior is reinforced.

In either of these scenarios, has Charlie or Tom, the direct report, learned anything?  No.   The parent and manager, however; have “learned” that in the future, when presented with an aversive condition (child yelling or direct report complaining), they just need to yell, and that aversive condition will decrease.

So what can we do instead?  My suggestion is to keep calm, and shape development.

How do we do this?

First, when Charlie starts to yell, the parent can calmly provide him with an alternative, effectively teaching him to “accept no.”  Here is the example:

Parent: Sorry, Charlie, you can’t have the toy right now.

Charlie: But I really want it now.

Parent: You can play with it later.

Charlie: I WANT IT NOW!

Parent (calmly): Charlie, how about instead of the toy, we do _______ instead?

Hopefully, Charlie agrees.  If not, the parent may have to provide a few more alternatives than the original.

Here’s an example for the workplace:

Direct Report: I’d really like to talk to you about some issues I’ve been having with the project.

Manager/Supervisor: Sure, Tom, tell me what is going on?

Direct Report: I do not feel I have the support I need from management for resources to complete the project.

Manager/Supervisor (calmly): I see.  Why do you feel like you need more support and resources?

Direct Report (getting upset): I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS THING FOR 60-80 HOURS A WEEK THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND I JUST CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE!

Manager/Supervisor (calmly): Ok, I understand that is frustrating.  How can we problem solve this together so we can complete the project, and you do not feel so burned out?

Direct Report (calmly):  Well….(continues problem solving with manager)

Obviously, it is not always this simple, and sometimes it takes perseverance for the parent and manager to maintain a calm voice in the discussion.  However, by sticking to this strategy, and keeping calm, we can shape the development of those around us as well as ourselves.

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