A manager understands the scope of work and the deadlines to be met. She sees the priorities at a high level, in addition to understanding how each of her team members fits into the bigger picture. She orients the team toward the larger goals for the year through status meetings and checkins. The manager holds people accountable to the plan.
A coach understands the strengths, career aspirations, and unique skills of each of her employees. She focuses on career development through regular individual meetings with her people. She asks probing questions to help each employee reflect on his experiences and find ways to improve. The coach brings out the best in people by nurturing their talent.
A mentor has been where her mentees hope to go. She has unique experiences and leadership qualities that others hope to emulate. She also recognizes her own weaknesses and failures, using them as teaching tools to make others better. She offers advice, wisdom, and perspective that is impossible to have without the experience. The mentor helps others navigate the path forward without making the same mistakes.
A leader is a person who understands the importance of context.
In one moment, she is the visionary, illuminating the path forward for the organization.
In the next, she is the manager, helping her people understand what role they will play in the larger plan.
A moment later, she is the coach, helping her people develop into talented individual contributors and leaders in their own right.
An hour after that, she is the mentor, helping a junior employee build her first investment portfolio.
And then in another instant, she is on the ground floor, executing on the work because she doesn’t believe in asking her people to do anything she would not also do.
True leadership is transformational. The leader adapts to the situation at hand. She is adept at gauging the person across the desk. She changes seamlessly between her many leadership personas to get the best out of her people.
Are you pigeon holing yourself into one leadership style? What if you didn’t have to?
Become a more courageous and generous leader
Get every new essay on making a positive impact in the world as it's published.