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Leaders And Managers

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A former advertising campaign for a beer company established the slogan, "Tastes great, less filling." The light beer was not only tasty, but it also didn't fill you up, combining two good qualities into one product. Like the beer, you also need to demonstrate multiple abilities. To be successful in today's industry, a combination of both leadership and management skills is required. Just like the beer that claimed to be both tasty and less filling, you need to be able to be both a leader and a manager in your organization. That sounds easy, but there is one problem; leadership and management are two separate skills.

To understand the difference, we first need to define leadership and management. Leadership is changing for better results; it is challenging the status quo and looking at the long term. Management, on the other hand, is consistency for better results; it is maintaining the status quo and focusing on short-term results. Management is about completing a project on time and on budget. Leadership and management, therefore, seem to contradict each other.

Leading

Take a moment to name some leaders. You may think of people like Winston Churchill, George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Vince Lombardi, and Mother Theresa. Or, maybe the names of your bosses, teachers, or family members come to mind. But, would you think of your own name? Probably not.

Usually, when we think of leaders, we consider larger-than-life historical figures, or important people who shaped our own lives, and we don't include ourselves. Give yourself some credit. You may not be leading large armies or nations, but you are leading your organization, project, or crew. The members of these categories need the same leadership that the followers of Eisenhower needed. You can be a leader too.

The real question is, how well do you lead? Take a look at the things leaders do with their time. Ultimately, the things those leaders do often revolve around "soft skills and solutions." These intangible things do not come naturally to many people in the construction industry. The critical few things that leaders do are set priorities, align people, and motivate and inspire them. These are skills that can be learned and taught.

Setting priorities

Priorities establish what is important. There are a number of ways an organization can develop its direction. Brainstorming and planning are two important aspects of leading an organization or a project. The key is that the leader is involved in setting this process. Someone needs to be thinking about the needs of the group for the long term. That someone is the leader. That someone might be you.

Aligning people

Leaders also get people moving in the same direction by using brainstorming and planning sessions. The power of alignment is best illustrated by a comparison between a standard light bulb and a laser. Simplifying the physics, both devices emit electrons of light. In the light bulb, electrons are moving in many different directions, and they are not working together. The laser, on the other hand, is a monochromatic beam of collimated electrons that are all moving in the same direction at the same frequency and amplitude. The result is a highly concentrated beam that has tremendous energy. While a light bulb illuminates, a laser can cut like a knife. Imagine all your people moving and working with a similar focus of energy.

Motivating and inspiring

Most people are motivated by something. You can create an environment in which followers choose to be motivated in support of the direction you have set out. You create that environment by consistently walking your talk, listening, communicating, and offering praise for jobs done well. Remember the old clichй, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

Managing

Management, on the other hand, is about the "hard skills." Management focuses on the business of the business; it involves planning and budgeting, organizing and staffing, and controlling and measuring. There are far more managers in business than leaders. Even though these

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