Leadership is ‘doing the right things’

It was Peter Drucker who famously said “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This theme is shared by others like Jim Collins, author of the book ‘Good to Great’. Jim talks of “level 5 leaders” as “ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the organisation, the work – not themselves – and they have the fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to make good on that ambition. A level 5 leader displays a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”

Being such a leader, this is where you earn your stripes, to use a military analogy. While it is important to “do things right”, it is more important to “do the right things.” It is in the latter that you have more of an opportunity to discover new, improved ways of doing things. If you merely follow the rules laid down ahead of you, you are limiting your ability to grow and improve.

To illustrate further, imagine you are leading a diverse team of individuals. You’ve only just started this role, and you are unsure how best to drive the individuals within the team. If you apply the management approach of “do things right”, you might think the best approach is to present the team members with some ‘incentive’ to produce. This could be financial or otherwise. However, if you apply the leadership approach of “do the right things”, you will realise that at this early stage of engaging your team, results come second. Your primary aim is to gain your team members’ trust first, and then their loyalty. Once you’ve managed to do this (and it could take some time), then the team will be more inclined to rally around their leader to make for a successful outcome.

By Dayo Sowunmi

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