Sunday, December 23, 2007

planning, leadership, management

I got into a Leadership program at work. One of the main points is defining the difference between management and leadership. The jist is that management deals with specific tasks and functions and that leadership deals with people. You don't have to be a manager to be a good leader. As the Kali lessons have repeated time and time again, to be a good leader, you have to also be a good follower and thus the term of "managing up." I personally dislike the business jargon that implies a one-way street in leadership and/or management. Yes, a leader must step forward, but before the step is taken they have to do alot of listening and observation and be aware if anyone is actually following them in the direction they are going into.

My manager retired and now I'm acting manager of the group. My dad asked me if I'm in training for the job, and I replied, it's more like training on the run. Here it is, go do it! Fortunately, my background in community organizing and the like has actually helped me in rolling with it all. The day-to-day management I felt I had decently covered, it's the future planning and budget management that is relatively new at the same time familiar.

From the money group to my own wedding, future planning and budget management weren't new concepts, I just had never done it for work. So, a bit of a learning curve for the details, but I get the general idea.

I'm finding that I actually like doing this kind of work. I was starting to get burnt out on desktop support. As much as I enjoy learning about the technology, I needed something more. And lo and behold, someone out there was listening.

Hell I even like doing budgets! I've always been a numbers kind of person. Always loved adding, subtracting, making charts. So I get jazzed looking at spreadsheets.

Each day I find myself learning so much! I've been with the department for 10 years now, and now I am gaining a greater understanding of how and why decisions were made and how the consequences panned out. Not to say they were good or bad, certainly some I disagree with, but just getting an understanding of how we came to this point as to better understand how to move from here.

I showed my director my 1.5 year plan. Grant it, I'm technically only Acting Manager at least til June, but I also figure that I can't be a decent Acting Manager if I'm not really planning for the future whether or not I'll still be manager. (Though I hope I will be) If I simply plan til June, then there's really nothing to plan since everything that we need to do has ramifications past June. If I put a plan in place and I do get the job, then we just keep doing what I'm doing, if it's decided to bring someone else in, then at least they have something to work with rather than start from scratch. I've always taken to the philosophy of do what you can, when you can.

I'm hoping the plans I've made will bring more cohesiveness to the group and in the meantime, I hope to help enhance other leaders in the group. A really good team doesn't just have one leader, there are many leaders. There might be a leader of the leaders, but one person cannot do it alone. We'll see how it goes!

I've also been observing my director as I get to know her better. I like the way she thinks and the way she reacts to and acts on things. It's really a very good environment for me to be in.

If I was just managing, then I'd just be concerned with my checklist of things to be done. But getting a chance to lead, really forces me to get to know my staff and coworkers better. I have to know where they're coming from, where they want to go, what they want to do, and I need their input on how to get there both for themselves and for the group.

During the leadership retreat we had, we had to make a timeline of the significant moments in our lives that made us into the leaders we are today. The first thing I put on my timeline was when my brother was born. And I said it was because once he was born I now had responsibility to take care of and guide someone else. That's the way it works in Filipino families. You're older, you're in charge. And this role extended to the rest of the family.

But the thing about Philippine leadership is that more often than not, it's one of simply position and in families it gets interpreted as well I'm older, you should listen. According to the book we're reading for the Leadership course, position is the lowest level of leadership, based solely on title. It's a functional leadership and your followers will only go as far as they need to, no more. It's rather totalitarian. To really lead, you have to have more than just position. You have to have the relationships and the experience and the trust required from others and in yourself to do more. People have to believe you have the skills to take them in the directions they want to go into.

So we're off for 10 days over the holiday break. And yet here I am blogging about work. (not in a bad way, mind you.) I'm blogging about work because these are fun, exciting times! And while children are anticipating he arrival of Santa Claus, I'm sitting around anticipating the start of the new year and all that it holds.

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