Two Levels of Leadership – “Big Picture” and “Task”

Leaders set direction that others follow at two levels: “big picture” – the macro level, and “task” – the micro level. At the macro level, they enact transformational change in either the external or internal environment of the enterprise, or both. At the micro level, they build relationships with followers for accomplishing specific tasks. Through both roles, the potential exists for new leaders to emerge.

The leadership role is performed at two related levels: macro and micro. The macro role can influence many individuals and is about what the enterprise can become. The leader starts with a vision of the future environment in which the enterprise will operate, or how it will be internally – the “big picture.”  The micro role is more directive and supportive, and is about accomplishing tasks through followers within the context of the big picture. The micro role is relationship-based. Whether at the macro or micro level, it is important that leaders convey clear statements of direction so that followers know what to expect and what is expected.

Macro leadership:

The macro leadership level is transformational – influencing results from followers, as either individuals or in teams, by changing their aspirations, wants and needs, objectives and goals. It affirms shared values, mission, vision, and learning.

Visions have external and internal components. The external component is what a community (local-to-global) can become as a consequence of the enterprise’s activities, and the products and/or services that it offers. The internal component describes what the enterprise itself can become to its employee, customer, supplier, and investor constituencies. “Being the best place to work,” “being the easiest company to do business with,” and “excellence through common purpose” are representative internal visions.

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If transformational leaders are successful, then the change is noticeable to constituents-at-large. Transformational change should be significant, if not dramatic, as the enterprise positions itself within communities and builds relationships with constituencies. However, it is not just the environment that changes. Both the leader and the followers change in themselves as a consequence of the transformational experience. Once the objectives and goals are achieved, followers are better equipped to enact change in the future. The leader can move on to new opportunities, delegating the leadership role to a follower going forward, and enabling others to assume equivalent roles elsewhere.

The macro leadership role is strategic in nature because it affects the position and posture of the enterprise as a whole, and influences groups of its constituents. However, the leader must perform in the micro leadership role also, even as a leader of leaders, because transformational change can only be achieved through task accomplishment.

Micro leadership:

The micro leadership level is transactional: an event or situation that involves a leader and a follower. The leader builds a relationship with the follower to accomplish specific tasks. The follower can be a member of a team or an individual contributor.

Transactional leaders are either power-centric or empowering. Power-centric leaders use a command and control oriented approach, where results are delivered to order with rewards, or else punishments are inflicted. Although this approach may accomplish objectives and goals, it does not develop new leaders effectively. “Micro managers” tend to over control, resist delegating, and are critical of mistakes made by others.

By contrast, empowering leaders develop successors through a process of migrating from a directive to a supportive style based upon the commitment and competencies of followers, and their confidence.

The relationship starts in a similar fashion to a power-centric approach, whereby the leader is directive. In this capacity, the leader is command and control oriented, setting objectives and goals, and delivering instructions as to how the task should be performed.

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Although they may be committed, the follower may have doubts about their competencies, which can affect their confidence. If their doubts continue, their commitment may be impacted negatively. It is the responsibility of the leader to access the commitment, competencies, and consequently the confidence of the follower, and adjust the relationship accordingly. If the follower is less competent or confident, then the leader remains directive; if the follower is more competent and confident, the leader becomes supportive. As such, the follower gains more control of the relationship. As the follower learns from their experiences, their competencies grow, and hence their confidence grows, and thus their commitment is restored positively.

Eventually the follower gains sufficient experience to where the responsibility is fully delegated with confidence from the leader. Thus, the follower sets their objectives and goals, and is accountable to the leader for their performance.

If the follower loses commitment because they do not have the aptitude, then they may be better off pursuing opportunities elsewhere.

Micro leadership is tactical in nature because it addresses the behavior of a follower and their tasks. However, as the follower develops experience, they are equipped to assume more responsibility.

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An enterprise cannot grow and continue to move forward unless it develops future leaders.

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Macro and micro leadership are enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competencies.

 

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