25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #5 Lead, but don’t manage
If there is one thing which is guaranteed to annoy me it’s the lack of attention to detail that some so-called “leaders” display. Actually, it’s more than that. You could rightly argue that leadership is about inspiring people with a vision, and so there shouldn’t be any need for leaders to get bogged down in the minutia of how something's going to work in practice.
OK, I accept that. But it would be nice if the ones I’m talking about acknowledged that such details actually exist, and need to be dealt with. You’ve been in meetings run by these folk – they’re the meetings which end with the words “Right, so by next month this will be in place.”
Erm, who will put it in place?
I think that one key characteristic of a good leader is the ability to recognise one’s strengths – and weaknesses, or at least those aspects of the work that could profitably be delegated to others. So a good leader will inspire the team to “sign up to” a vision, and then appoint a project manager to see it through, not just leave it to chance.
As implied in my article But where’s the pen?, leaders who don’t pay attention to detail, or who don’t ensure that there is someone who is paying attention to detail, are bound to fail.