The knowledge worker cannot be supervised closely or in detail. He can only be helped. But he must direct himself, and he must direct himself toward performance and contribution, that is, toward effectiveness.
I once watched a board of directors make a decision about what they thought the CEO should be doing. They were dead wrong. None of them had ever been a CEO. Funny how that works. None of them had learned the principle: Leaders lead and boards govern. Two different roles; two different purposes. Consequently, the leader chose to leave the organization. He knew the principle: “Good leadership thrives where leadership is valued.”
Leaders, managers, and team members are hired to serve the mission of the organization. If they must be supervised like a child playing near a busy street, they cannot produce a good return on their wage.
What makes a person valuable to an organization is the ability to work with a clear understanding of the mission and culture of the organization. After that, they must be able to work independently and with great effectiveness.
Many who aspire to lead have the needed traits already hardwired within their temperament and what they don’t have or need, they learn while in training as a team member. Traits alone are not enough. They must be shaped into skill-sets. This is the shared work of the team member and his manager.
There isn’t room at the leader position for those seeking direction. Leaders serve by:
- Carefully discerning the most important needs of the organization, customers, and stakeholders while aligning everyone to satisfying those needs.
- Working with their head up. They do not work with their head down as one works on a manufacturing line. They work with their heads up seeing the whole organization.
- Providing clarity of mission and while reinforcing healthy values.