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Corona leadership/Do you make things happen or do you just make plans?

Corona crisis management has most certainly put your leadership to the test. Particularly in times of crisis, leaders can indulge in acting more as a manager, even though the balance between management and leadership can create faster change and more value.

So why not use the Corona situation to reflect on your own balance between your manager and leadership tasks? Maybe you need to adjust your approach right now, where you both must manage the crisis and lead the business towards a "new normal" on the other side of the crisis.

Inspiring leaders create more value

Good leadership is an untapped potential. An example of leadership research below shows that only 25% of managers are good leaders, half are “only managers” and 25% are bad supervisors. Two other studies reveal the challenge of leaders' mistaken self-perception of being inspirational. Thus, 77% of managers find themselves inspiring, while 82% of employees find their managers uninspiring. Recognizing that inspirational leadership correlates positively with commitment (+ 32%), satisfaction (+ 46%) and performance (+ 16%), then there will be reason to believe that better leadership can drive faster change, so your business gets ready to create value when the Corona dust settles.


Figure 1: Good leadership is an untapped potential


Leadership Potential UK



Strike the right balance between your manager and leadership role

The corona crisis has already shown us that the leadership environment has changed with e.g. virtual meetings and more long-distance leadership, and most companies are looking into a new market environment that puts new demands on business models - including digitization in all facets of leadership and operations. I do not have a golden recipe for "new normal" leadership. But I have learned for more than 30 years that the ability to execute the optimal balance between management, which is primarily about "what", and leadership which is more about "how", supported by a credible and compelling "why", allows for faster change and deliver even better results - because an engaging and holistic approach creates meaningful jobs for everyone. Management typically covers planning and budgeting, organization and staffing, as well as control and problem solving. In contrast, leadership is typically about establishing direction, creating common ground and teams, as well as motivation and inspiration. In other words, your task is not just about dry numbers and cool facts, but just as much about people and emotions. The right balance can create a stronger connection between ambitious business goals, efforts and employees' understanding of direction, result demands and maneuver room. It clarifies responsibilities and roles, and optimizes competencies, creativity, motivation and commitment.


Crises and new technologies are coming and going, and change in the market environment is a "constant" that we have practiced for many years. Thus, I believe that my philosophy of ensuring the right balance between management and leadership can also guide you in dealing with the new demands for creating closeness and commitment at a distance as well as ensuring the necessary business development. 


Figure 2: It is about numbers and people

Numbers and people


You must act as "composer" and "conductor" at the same time

In my early career days, I started to reflect on what I was actually spending my scarce time on? How much time did I spend on the manager role, numbers and facts? And how much time was left for the leadership role, people and emotions? After all, it is two very different roles, that set very different requirements and must be performed at the same time. By putting % 's on my time allocation between management and leadership tasks, it became clear to me that I spent far too much time planning "what", and too little on "how" I could create direction, align and commit my teams. I understood why even the best plan can fail, while the next best plan can succeed with the right balance between analytical management and involved leadership - a bit like the composer and conductor, where the conductor ensures the beautiful sound through perfect execution. The funny thing was that I literally used my management skills to ensure the right balance, so I was not only the composer but also the conductor.


Are you aware that you during the Corona crisis are not overplaying the manager role, thus draining your employees of commitment, creativity and drive to overcome the crisis and create the new reality on the other side? Examples of classic differences between a manager profile and a leader profile are that the manager administrates, while the leader renews, builds on control rather than trust, solves bound tasks him- or herself rather than creating inspirational tasks for the team, chases employees instead of coaching them, creates fear rather than enthusiasm, takes the credit him or herself rather than passing it on. The manager sits mostly at the desk and says "Go", while the leader is mostly on stage and says "Let's go". Unfortunately, it is not an either or, but both. This makes it difficult for many managers because they lack a structured method of working with balance.


Figure 3: Most managers need a structured method to strike the right balance

The weigth


A bid for a strong and balanced leadership profile

If your goal is to create faster change and more value, and you, like me, believe that more leadership can help, then the recipe for a strong and balanced leadership profile must include the ability to both perform at the desk and on stage.


Figure 4: Recipe for a strong and balanced leader profile

A balanced leaderprofile


Take a break here in the Corona “home office time” to reflect on your leadership. Evaluate yourself in relation to the competency profile in figure 6. What are you good at? Do you do it in practice? What are you not so good at, and therefore refrain from in practice? Is there something you are not at all aware of, and thus do not practice, regardless of you may be good at? Or that you could train yourself to get better at? Getting better at something does not come easily. But it starts off well if you are aware that you are spending your time as best as possible to create results rather than just plans. You could for example take the Leadmore® test here: your management and leadership balance


From there, you can then use your reflections to set improvement goals for your leadership. Rome was not built in one day, so prioritize e.g. max. 3 focus areas for developing your personal leadership style. Formulate clear and measurable goals, set deadlines so you can see if you are moving in the right direction. You can also consider choosing a coach or mentor, who can help you with inspiration and find answers on how to become an even more valuable leader. Maybe you, like so much else, also come out differently on the other side of the Corona crisis?


Good luck with your leadership development and reach out if you would like a non-committal talk to turn your thoughts and opportunities.


Mads Middelboe

Executive Advisor & CEO



Attitudes mean more than skills when moving your b...

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