One thing I love about being an instructional designer and training developer is the opportunity to learn about new areas. Although I’ve held minor management or project management roles in many jobs over the years, my skills could certainly use a shot of adrenaline. That came this past year while working on CAI’s Catalyst Leadership project.
My personal opinion of managers, on the whole, has always been that most managers are not good leaders and vice versa. I usually think of leaders as being those who can work well with people to bring out the best in them and motivate them. Managers, on the other hand, seem to focus most on getting the job done no matter what the personal cost to the people who work for them.
The best scenario, as far as I’m concerned, is to have managers who also have highly honed leadership skills and leaders who know and understand more about effective management. I was glad to see CAI take the initiative by developing Catalyst to help bridge the gap between managers and leaders.
Catalyst’s archive of Harvard Business Review articles gave me a wealth of research and other points of view to consider. Sometimes I was shocked by what the research indicated, especially about the factors that affect our decisions and judgment calls. That’s an area that everyone can improve, including our political leaders. I was also impressed by some of the fresh, new ideas I had never heard about previously, such as how the emotional parts of our brains profoundly influence our decisions and choices.
The books used in Catalyst were easy, but thought-provoking. Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is an excellent book with lots of ideas for assessing and minimizing the dysfunctions that can cripple, if not destroy, a team. I liked the content so much that I created a presentation to summarize the key points.
Difficult Conversations, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, is a great source to help anyone maximize communications skills for both personal and professional settings. CAI’s Director of HR, Renee Stephens, added her personal touch to a presentation based on the book. The opportunity to working with Renee was wonderful. I deeply respect her opinions, background, and expertise in working with more managers than I ever can in a lifetime.
My experience, in both developing Catalyst and working with other Catalyst authors, gave me a new-found appreciation for managers and leaders. Although someone may be born with the potential to be a manager or leader, it takes a lot of work, patience, and courage to learn how to be a great one.
If you’re interested in the books I discussed in this post, visit our bookstore, we have many of the books I’ve mentioned listed there. Also – If you have read any of the literature discussed here, please share your opinions, It would be great to hear what you have to say.