How do you manage? What guides you in the ways you work with your team, peers and managers? In my mind the question really is what is your leadership framework? What is the framework within which you manage or plan to manage your team? What are the boundaries you establish, processes you use, roles you take on?
My framework, as you know, is manager - leader - coach. Someone who is responsible for people in an organization needs to use this framework at different times for different reasons. Within that high level framework are other frameworks for each of the roles. The high level framework stays the same throughout your career. However, at different times in your career you will use different frameworks within each role.
The manager role is about getting things done through people. The people you manage are at an entry level or just above - you’re a manager. You’ll manage managers as a director and directors as a vice president etc. The framework at the manager level is about directing - directing + coaching - coaching - managing through team work. In this famous framework (Blanchard) you match your style to the level of development of the person you are managing. People need different management input at different times in their development in their job.
Senior Leader’s Framework
At the most senior levels of a company the leadership framework is more about predicting - delegating - repeating. You can see this framework’s relationship to the manager framework by understanding that the people being lead by this team are probably self-starters, highly motivated to succeed and, fairly senior in their experience. Therefore the the most senior levels of a company should be able to manage through a shared vision and delegation. They then spend time predicting what needs to happen next and crafting the key messages to drive the required actions. And, they repeat those keys messages to help keep everyone on side and establish consistency and clear expectations.
Why is a framework important?
The importance of having a framework is to give yourself boundaries and context for the role. The boundaries help when things get crazy, overwhelming even. A framework also gives you clues as to when to use certain tools with in the framework. This is especially important for you first-timers. It’s also important for you middle managers when things change - a new team, a move to a new organization, a promotion.
For those of you who are already reflective learners, a framework also gives you clues when things aren’t working for you. A bit of reflection will help you better understand when a change or transformation is required and possibly a shift in the boundaries set up by your framework.
In the end, it’s a guide
The word framework feels sturdy and something to be put in place and left in place - don’t do it. I often use the metaphor with my clients that a framework is like walls in a house during a renovation. Some elements are fixed (load bearing walls) and some elements can be moved or removed (that wall between kitchen and living room that is just a divider). To help you keep perspective and be more successful, find a framework that works for you (or get some support in finding the right one for you) and use it. Practice managing from within it, tweak it, make it work for you!