One little difference. You can outline your entire business plan with one little difference. You can predict the professional development of your entire staff with one little difference. You can identify the stress level of all involved with one little difference. You can identify staying power with one little difference…a preposition.

Remember third grade English? Parts of speech? A preposition is that smallest of words expressing a relationship between a noun, pronoun or noun phrase. In other words, the relationship between people.

What’s the relationship between you and your peers, you and your staff, you and your customers, you and your family? What is your preposition of choice? Do others work for you or with you?

Webster defines “for” as a representative of, on behalf of. Look at the characteristics of someone who works for you.

  1. prefers detailed, written instruction
  2. is great at repeating instructions (i.e. that’s our policy; Daddy said so)
  3. usually follows through on instruction; may need some prodding
  4. shows up
  5. knows job description and responsibilities
  6. job security is critical
  7. knows your way is the best way and seldom offers suggestions

 

“With” is used to indicate that two or more persons or things are together, near each other, in agreement, harmony, etc. Look at the characteristics of someone who works with you.

  1. sees the big picture
  2. shows up early
  3. takes ownership
  4. possesses a sound reasoning process (i.e. share an idea and let her run with it)
  5. excited about process and opportunities
  6. finds and researches ideas in articles, commercials and other marketing plans
  7. gets job done
  8. enjoys personal satisfaction with a good job
  9. identifies challenges

 

A manager’s preposition of choice is for. Managers need to control the process. After all, they’ve usually been around longer, attended more conferences, have heard the best practices, and know what works. Managers often supervise employees with little or no job training, make decisions and need others to implement them.

A leader’s preposition of choice is with. Leaders desire a team of thinkers. They speak in big picture concepts, expecting those on the team to have ideas on influence, impact and implementation. They are the least concerned with taking credit for new ideas or plans. Leaders want to share the vision and then get out of the way. They experience the workplace excitement as the vision takes form.

The skills that make a great manager will often inhibit one from being a great leader. Everyone doesn’t make that leap. And everyone shouldn’t. There are many occupations where a great manager is necessary for success.

With today’s emphasis on leadership, take a hard look at your preferred style. Look at your business plan, the professional development plan of your staff, the stress level that everyone works under, and your turnover.

What is your real preposition of choice?