I have worked with team leaders, project managers, and technical leads during my decade-long career. Many effective, many ineffective.
Most ineffective middle managers/leaders have one thing in common: they see their primary role as spoon-feeders, epic problem-solvers, and fire-eaters.
More often than not, they spend 12-15 hours a day in the office and compel their team members to do the same and multiply the chaos.
Perhaps the chaos is a creative process for them so if the actual problem is not solved, they feel that they ‘created’ something. (sarcasm!)
Those people work more as per the definition of their titles without on-key leadership.
On the other hand, effective middle managers/leaders know that the leadership is at its best when led from the front – it is an opportunity available to everyone, regardless of the title they carry.
Effective middle managers/leaders keep the organization, employees, and clients’ well-being in mind and enabling everyone to perform at their optimum potential. How do they do it? By setting an example themselves.
Effective leaders don’t spoon-feed their people, solve their problems in a so-called heroic way or eat (or pretend to eat) the fire. They set the right expectations and install a framework of choices and consequences where the ‘doers’ make choices that solve the problem in an effective way within the given constraints.
There is a thin line between setting an example themselves and carrying out a heroic act to capture the limelight.
For example, when a business critical project delivery is to be done, a little bit of micro-management may be okay but the effective leader articulates the need of carrying it out to the team in a way that makes them participate in the activity rather than feeling awkward for being micromanaged.
Effective leadership means getting things done by your people in a way that if they need to spend 15-hours a day, they look forward to it because they see the worth of that action.
Power Question: Who are you? A title or a leader?