Friday, May 9, 2014

Managing and leading

        I had to go through a few leadership classes with band. I went through a semester program at school. Neither of those made me realize the difference in terms here. Managers are not (at least by definition) leaders. At least, not how I would see it. I took an assessment at work that's intended to see if I would be a good leader, I ranked as "competitive." It asked questions primarily about communication/diplomacy and level of authoritarian/free-reign ness, and about response to feedback. It just hit me how ridiculous this is. I've been contemplating trying to find some weird position I could take, like substitute supervisor when someone is on vacation or something, so that I could develop my leadership skills. And it finally hit me.

          My managers are just that: managers. They point fingers and go "do that." Occasionally they'll point to our bottom line, which honestly is really bad motivation, and that's as close as they get to trying to actually lead. That's not true... some of my managers show a good bit of gratitude, which counts for something. Let's see if I can remember the leadership styles/traits from last year (this isn't mine, but I honestly don't remember the original source. Here's a page that briefly discusses it though:

    • Inspire a Shared Vision: Not really. There isn't much inspiration in the shared vision of lining someone's pocket way up the ladder. 
    • Challenge the Process: Ha. Haha. No, this is a system of "just obey the process, stop asking questions." At least at my level, and as far as I can tell just about all levels in the store. Maybe not the main manager, but I'm pretty sure at least the first three from the bottom.
    • Encourage the Heart: eh. Some of my bosses (of which I have a lot) make a point to compliment me on a job well done, are sure to pass on compliments (i.e. someone I helped out commenting on how awesome I was), and show gratitude. One of them is particularly nice and tries to be supportive, as little as she sees me, and one of them thinks it's totally awesome that I'm looking at leadership. This is something that might be roughly half and half. 
    • Enable Others to Act: No. Kind of? Once in a while input is appreciated, but I never feel comfortable giving unsolicited input because it's rarely received as if my ideas are worthy of any respect. I predominately feel treated like a brainless drone. The best case I've had in this respect is being let to go without orders, which was less about trust and more about bad managing. 
    • Model the Way: Sometimes. For the most part, my managers are at least decent about getting their own hands dirty if needed. But they don't model respect for the individual, or open communication, or anything else beyond the work itself.
             My managers are generally not good leaders. And if I go into this management trying to learn to be a leader, I have a feeling I'll just go even more crazy than I am  on the bottom rung. I'll be in the system, trying to play along. Maybe I'd "model the way" for other managers into trying to actually lead, but I suspect I'd get beat down instead. Granted, it's a moot point right now because I can't supervise and go to school. 

              But maybe I should attempt to be a leader from the bottom. Not in a manage-y sense, but in every other way. Daring to challenge the process when I really think it ought to be challenged, trying to inspire a sense of at least helping others and making each other a little less miserable ("vision" might go a little far).... 

               I don't know. The reality is, I want to be a leader, but I don't care to manage. I was looking at management because I thought it might force me to exercise those atrophied traits and skills... but maybe I just have to resolve to practice leadership without being forced by an official role. And yeah, I have a really crappy job. But while I'm there, I may as well try to get as much from it as I can. 

              And I want to lead. I want to become the kind of person who leads others towards achieving what greatness they are capable of.


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