In our society we tend to define leadership as something almost mystical. The ability to draw people to a certain idea and gain their commitment to the idea. Lincoln and Churchill are often mentioned as examples of great leaders. Leadership is considered to be something like a great sports figure’s talent. Its is God-given. Some have it and other not, but of those who have it, some practice it and make use of it better than others. Now consider those people put in leadership roles by the fact of becoming managers. Must they have the almost mystical ability to gain commitment from others, especially their direct reports? Well from my experience I would say having such leadership talent wouldn’t hurt but leaders such as Lincoln and Churchill are rare. Therefore managerial leadership is not mystical. It is not a God-given talent. Rather it is a specific accountability of every managerial role and every manager should be held to account for delivering managerial leadership.

A manager is someone who is accountable for the output or results of others. A manager builds and leads an effective team which has a set purpose and direction. The team is constantly improving itself through improvements to its work processes and systems. If a manager is not able or willing to be such a leader he/she should be removed from managerial leadership and made an individual contributor under a manager with such willingness to deliver managerial leadership. In a high performance organization every manager is a leader who by the very nature of their role delivers managerial leadership and every senior manager holds their managers accountable for delivering such leadership.

Being a mentor to many young managers, I often hear their frustrations with systems that work poorly, lack of cooperation across departments and with peers, assignments which are ambiguous or unclear, unfairness in work load distribution, etc., etc., etc.. Their seniors managers urge them to find a path through the bureaucratic quagmire of dysfunction in the organization, and at the same time preach talent retention. (Lol) Is managerial leadership being ignored by many of today’s senior managers? Why are so many organizations dysfunctional? Why do senior managers not see the dysfunction or understand that they are accountable for fixing dysfunction in their organization? In these organizations young managers are rewarded for working around dysfunctional systems (which means breaking the rules) and finding a way to deliver results. They believe that such behavior is the difference between success and failure. The lack of managerial leadership in senior managers is causing a whole generation of young managers to use inappropriate methods and it is being labeled as good management.

If your organization is struggling with confusion, frustration, and dysfunction. If you are concerned about talent retention issues and you are a senior manager. Look in the mirror and say; “Fixing my organization begins today with me.” It time to get back to being a good manager and demonstrating managerial leadership.




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