Leadership has a lot to do with directing people. This includes identifying and appropriating their uniqueness. Uniqueness extends to how they are wired: their dispositions, skills and talents. You can change people but only to an extent. Thus guiding is a critical aspect of leading. (Actually, this also applies to parenting)
Leaders must not only direct but move people. They have to take them on a journey on realising who they are. When led well people get to use their skills to achieve things greater than themselves. They do things that really matter.
The Difference Between Guidance And Control
Guidance is about setting direction and parameters that liberate those you lead, to act. When you guide people you help them realise direction with their involvement. You make them aware of where their contribution should cause the team or organisation to end up.
When you guide you make those you lead aware of their environment. You help them figure out what it means for them and the mission. You help them figure out how to apply themselves.
Guiding also means that you help people keep to true north. You ask them if and how the path they’re on will take them to the predetermined destination? You help paint a picture on where the path they’re on will land them.
Control, at least in the context I’m writing about now, is overly prescriptive. When teams and individuals are controlled all their actions are dictated to them. In an environment of control, everything has to run past the ‘leader’.
The role of the leader is that of a lid or ceiling. When teams or individuals are, controlled they have little say on how to get to the destination. Their contribution is limited to obedience. Control doesn’t require leadership or innovation from teams or individuals.
There is little or no participation of those being led, in setting the agenda. This is not to say that every team must have a say. It is that the greatest value they’re perceived to add is just labour. Value-add doesn’t come from providing other possible perspectives.
There is little conversation; all communication is from the leader down. Communication is in the form of directives. There is little conversation about the endeavour.
On the difference between guidance and control… Sometimes there’s a blur between control and guiding. One generally gets more by guiding than controlling. The benefits of guiding (subject for the next blog post) far outweigh being controlling.