As a manager, your job is to get things done. But as a leader, your mission now becomes to get things done through other people. And many times, what that really means is that you have to be a facilitator – someone who removes obstacles, levels the path, greases the wheels – who ensures that your people have the tools they need to achieve their results. But even your involvement as a facilitator can vary. Imagine a continuum where one end is a lifeboat, and the other is a lighthouse.
If you’re at the lifeboat end of the continuum, you might visualize yourself as someone who lets your employees sail on their own, navigating their own way from port to port, but you’re close by to step in if there is a crisis. When things go wrong, you’re right there to rapidly swoop in to save the situation, and you’re gratefully lauded by those who were otherwise drowning.
But if you see yourself at the lighthouse end of the continuum, the image is different. Now, you’re a beacon, a guiding light that shines brightly, illuminating the path for your people to get from harbour to harbour. Your role is not so much to search and rescue, but rather to stand firm in the storm, offering hope and resilience to those trying to get to shore. Sometimes it’s through advice, and sometimes it’s just by being a positive role model.