9-1-1 Leadership. How do you know if you are a leader or a manager? Certainly if you Google this topic you will get a laundry list of different articles or answers. There are many well known spiritual leaders who have written numerous books on leadership; my favorite being Bill Hybels. I would like to take an approach that comes from personal work experience as well as a biblical example. I have never heard it explained the way I will attempt to in this blog. I like to call this the 9-1-1 approach to leadership. The “9” stands for the 90% that is working correctly in your organization day in and day out. Let’s face it, not everything is broken on a daily basis. If you are a positive person it is easy for you to identify the areas that are hitting on all cylinders. The first “1” stands for the 10% that is not going well and is causing you headaches. Some organizations recognize the 10%, while others do not even know the 10% exist. And the last “1” stand for the up to 10 times longer it will take to identify, fix and change the behavior behind the 10% not going well.
So back to the initial question, how do you know if you are a leader or a manager? In my opinion, if you focus and spend a majority of your time on the 90% that is going well…then I would call you a manager. However, if you spend most of your time and energy in the 10% area that is not going well…I would call you a leader. Managers keep the organization rolling and steering the ship on a day to day basis. They are there to “manage” what processes/policies already exist within the organization. They quickly identify situations that start to slip or get out of whack with what is the norm. Managers have typically been handed a proven solution and told to carry on the way it was designed.
I have learned over the years, that turnover, whether employee related, student related or church related…turnover is usually a result of a multitude of internal variables, so to try and isolate it to one single factor is usually misguided. True leadership doesn’t focus on the 90% going well in the organization, it starts digging into the 10% that is not going well.
Managers stay focused on the 90%.
The question is do you want to be known for the easy road of managing what has already been established and working well or do you want to be known as a leader, problem solver, visionary for conquering the 10% that most want to avoid or prentend does not exist?
As a leader, it is one of my responsibilities to set goals and expectations for the team. I know individual workers have goals for themselves personally, professionally and spiritually. However, just like a coach of a sporting team, it is my responsibility in the corporate environment to set goals for my staff (the team), often hoping to accomplish far beyond what many of them think may be possible. There are so many expectations and disappointments when goals go unmet. There are usually three areas that we have unmet expectations: the people around us, our current situation and the uncertain future in front of us. We build up expectations in each of these areas on how we think things should go and are often disappointed when they do not go the way we thought. We need to learn to manage our expectations as well as honor God in the process no matter what. Managing expectations is a critical factor in leading successful change. If you can manage your expectations, you may have a more enjoyable experience with the people around you, the situation you are in or the future ahead of you.
“Expectations need to be managed from the beginning, and throughout the process–which requires a major effort of public information and education … Otherwise expectations are unrealistic, and [people] are inevitably disappointed. When disillusion sets in,… people can easily turn against the … agreement they had at first welcomed.”
–Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations, 14 October 2004.
Whoever I am with, wherever I am, regardless of the uncertainties that lie ahead, I will live to honor God.