Are you open to learning?

One of my favorite things to talk about is management versus leadership. On Monday, a
client was sharing his framework of how he handles things when they unravel. Stress is
a part of our lives, and for this client who is in a highly visible sales management role,
stress is constant. That is both a challenge and opportunity.

Obviously, being in “stress mode” as I like to call it, makes many of us behave badly. We stop listening, are difficult to be around, are unable to support others and make
decisions reactively, and often poorly. To my client’s credit, his framework to handle
situations that are unraveling is fairly solid, and it seems to work for him. The problem is
that it works for him as a manager and not as a leader.

After talking about it for a while, he shared an insight that as a leader he should “seek
first to understand, rather than be understood” from the book, The Seven Habits of
Highly Successful People. Another way to think about it is to slow down, ask questions
and listen to what others are saying before jumping in with both feet to solve the
problem. Better yet, think about how to inspire others to step up and solve the problem.
When in stressful situations, pause and think about how you might address the situation
as a leader, and not simply as a manager. Ask yourself the question: What would a
leader do?


You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.

Grace Hopper, Computer Scientist, Mathematician, US Navy Rear Admiral
Worth The Share

In this article from Chief Executive, the author, former CEO Jay Sidhu, addresses the subject of leadership versus management. In Essential Lessons for Leadership, he said that “leaders must:

  1. have a clear vision, mission, goals and strategic plan to achieve those goals with alignment throughout the organization;
  2. master their internal environment through authentic self-assessment of strengths and areas for improvement;
  3. master their external environment, i.e., how are the economy, competition, and customer needs, etc., changing and impacting performance; and
  4. be passionate about continual improvement.”

The fourth bullet point really struct home with me as an executive coach. Beyond building a personal board of directors that he met with frequently, and taking leadership development programs, it sounds like he remained intentional about his own personal and professional development throughout his career. He also spoke about “understanding your strengths and weaknesses”, learning more about himself and being open to change. Read the full article for more insights.

And Finally...

Summer is winding down and the busy Fall season is already ramping up. As you look ahead to the next few months, what are you focused on? Better question, what is one area in yourself that you want to develop to become a better leader?

Attending to your personal and professional development is your responsibility. It is
never to late to learn something new. Learning, even later in life, has tremendous benefits including an increase in self-esteem, cognition, memory, and a sense of accomplishment. Plus, learning is critical for your brain health.

Maybe take an online course, read a book, try an improv class, take up the guitar or
work with someone who will challenge you, like an executive or life coach. But before
you do that, enjoy these last days of summer.

Happy Labor Day,
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at [email protected]