Management Evolution of Professional Leaders

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No matter the discipline – Physicians, Attorneys, Architects, Accountants, Engineers or Religious Ministers, to name a few, aspiring professionals invest six to eight years in formal training to become proficient in their chosen careers. After college, most professions require extensive testing and interviews before a panel of experts to gain final approval and certification as a worthy professional. While each new professional may spend their early years working as an apprentice, the final goal is normally to develop a career as an independent and competent member of ones chosen profession.

Some may choose to join a large corporation or government agency and find satisfactory employment operating as a specialist in their chosen field. Many will seek employment in the private sector with firms that practice in their area of expertise. With time and experience, some will start their own companies, hire support staff and seek to find clients (or patients) to serve with commensurate compensation. As their practice (or church) grows, the leading professional is faced with an ever increasing mix of complex activities beyond the core disciplines they were trained to understand. Very soon each growing professional practice will face issues such as: business planning, marketing, finance and human resource management for the first time! If the organization remains relatively small, a few professionals may learn to handle these new duties with the help of their staff. Some professional practices may decide not to continue growing – or they fail to understand what is needed to promote growth. However, the organizations that seek to grow will be forced to gain new skills and professional support staff with specialized management skills.

To hold it all together, the top leaders must develop additional management skills and gradually turn the normal services (provided to clients) over to others in the organization. This changing role of the top leaders is crucial if the firm is to continue to grow and remain profitable. Some very competent, senior leaders learn to make this important transition, and some do not. Sometimes senior owners will remain as top technical consultants and delegate the key managerial positions to others better suited, and willing, to address the non-technical leadership roles in the firm. If a democratic- participative team effort can be evolved, the firm may be able to retain most of their best technical talent and also nurture a  group of competent business managers. Most of this scenario seems simple –but it is not!

There are many potential roadblocks to every organizations future success. Some are exterior to the firm in the market place. These retarders can best be addressed by creative minds and competent business planning. The most challenging roadblocks may be interior – within the complex mixture of leadership personalities. Some professional leaders grow and develop managerial skills that were never thought of or addressed while they were in college seeking to become technically proficient. Personality traits, totally independent of professional prowess, come into play within day to day interpersonal relationships. Here are several key personality descriptors for your consideration:

  • Type A vs. Type B personalities
  • Strong Autocratic personalities
  • Introverts vs. extroverts
  • Dominant “right brain” or “left brain” orientations

Please remember, none of these personality types relate to basic intelligence.

While dealing with these God given personality traits, what do these four characteristics mean?

  • Type A personalities are aggressive, extroverted and impatient. Type B types are more laid back and reluctant to lead.
  • Autocratic personalities tend to be dictatorial, demanding and not interested in the opinions of others.
  • Introverts may know what’s happening but they seldom volunteer to speak up. Extroverts sometimes speak before they think.
  • Dominantly Right brained people – avoid confrontations, base decisions on feelings rather than on facts – Left brained people are organized, analytical and get things done but sometimes step on the feelings of others.

Unfortunately many leaders bring a set of human traits to their business relationships and they are not aware of how their management styles negatively impact the effectiveness of their leadership.

So what is the answer, we are all different and imperfect personalities?  The beginning of wisdom is: “Know Thyself.” If one is a mediocre golfer, as I am, one must first decide:

  • Do I sincerely wish to become a better golfer?
  • Do I truthfully understand my strengths and my weaknesses as a golfer (or leader)?
  • Will I decide to seek help and discipline myself to adjust to change?
  • All pro football players, make mistakes, get knocked down – but the consistent winners get back up, examine their faults and seek to improve.

Even though you and I have natural conduct propensities, we can learn and decide to change and grow. Here are some concluding observations:

  • Most Physicians, Attorneys and Accountants need strong business managers on their staff to survive.
  • Some Engineers can adjust to being good business managers – but many will decide not to give up their technical activities.
  • Most Ministers are Right Brained, make excellent preachers and personal pastors, but in general are very poor business managers (left brain activities). These dedicated servants need substantial managerial support and/or extensive management training.

In conclusion, each professional, no matter the discipline, must decide:

  • What spectrum of professional activities am I best suited to perform?
  • Do I wish to remain a specialist in a narrow professional field or learn to become a broad based leader within a growing church or other business?
  • What, if any, personality factors, need further development to assist me in accomplishing my professional career goals?
  • How may I learn to maximize my opportunity to be the best leader possible?

No one set of choices fits everyone.  These are very personal and serious decisions that each professional should make in order to realize and enjoy the most successful career. With full consideration for all of the above, never forget that the most important characteristic of any effective leader is ……… Integrity!

Written By W.F. Peck

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