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In our current business environments, many managers find themselves scratching their head at the dozens of leadership articles crossing their desks in magazines or emails. Even social media now seems to target those of us in management positions with the latest leadership tactics in attempts to gain our “click.” Yes, there are dozens of leadership theories—each with valid points and weak points. No, we as leaders will never perfect each of these theories in practice and ride away in a blaze of leadership glory.

First, leadership is different from management. Management is focused on how to do tasks.  Leadership focused on explaining to people why a specific task is important.  Now, this dynamic is important because we are looking to develop our own leadership skills, as well as future leaders and managers.  Associates that know the “how” may not know the “why.”

When talking with corporate leaders who want to develop people, who want to grow a business, I often find a hesitancy to explain the “why.”  So here is my first leadership challenge.  Set aside the business magazines with the latest leadership trends, set aside your social media accounts with shiny graphics, and set aside your leadership textbooks.  To kick off your personal and staff leadership development all you must do is walk out of your office, find an associate and begin to explain “why” a process is a way it is.  When you explain these types of intricacies you will teach skills required for associates to grow into decision-making leaders, and just as important, you will have started the process of transformational leadership.

Leadership theories are important.  But if you’re starting to develop leaders, working on your own leadership, or you’re in a business that feels like your in the weeds, I encourage you to first shift into better leadership by empowering associates with knowledge—tell them why you do what you do, and why they are doing what they are doing.  Take this initial small step and you will benefit, your business will benefit, and your associates will certainly want to know more as they join you in supporting and improving your business growth.