Hands on Approach to Leadership: The Need for Leaders to be Good Administrators

Need for Modern Day Leaders to Adopt a Hands-on Approach

It is often assumed that leadership is all about having a vision and then, implementing the vision by delegating work and components of the plan appropriately to the subordinates. Further, it is also thought that leaders should engage in planning and drawing up high-level aspects of such planning and then, leave the actual implementation to others.

Nothing can be farther than the truth as leaders also need to be good administrators if they have to succeed. Indeed, modern-day leadership is as much about Twenty Thousand Feet strategic vision as it is about nuts and bolts of the ground level realities.

Apart from this, while modern leaders need to know the art of delegating well, they must also ensure that they monitor the plans for implementation and track the progress of the plans to completion. Also, leaders must preferably understand what it takes to implement such plans and how actual execution works in practice.

It is for this reason that many contemporary leaders often come up through the ranks wherein they master the art and science of execution, implementation, and administration and then move on to a visionary role where their experience and expertise in addition to their personality determines how well they visualize strategy and how well they execute such strategies.

Balancing Visionary Planning with Astute Administration

It is also not the case that leaders by being good administrators can ensure success. Indeed, this is probably not the case as leaders need to be visionaries and have a certain personal charisma if they have to make a difference in their roles.

For instance, all contemporary organizations insist on leaders having a vision that they can conceptualize on how to take their organizations forward. Further, they must have a personality with which they can command the respect of their followers. In addition, they must be able to carry all stakeholders along with them.

Thus, leadership in the present times is as much about strategic vision as it is about hands-on approaches to administration and execution. Talking about hands-on approaches, it is the case that leaders ought to be “on the ball” as far as execution and administration are concerned.

For instance, consider the post of the Prime Minister of a large and complex country such as India. Such leaders not only have to think and come up with innovative schemes and inventive policies but must also monitor the implementation of such policies and track them to completion.

Indeed, he or she who is the PM must be as much hands-on as they are about high-level planning and vision.

How Does Hands-on Leadership Work

We have been talking a lot about hands-on approaches to leadership. So, what does it mean and how does it work in practice. To start with, a hands-on approach usually means that leaders must not only understand how implementation works but must also be aware of the bottlenecks and other aspects that can hold or delay the plans.

In other words, they must be cognizant of the real world barriers to implementation and the holds up that can derail and stymie their plans. Indeed, this is where prior experience with the administration would come in handy wherein their familiarity with how the bureaucracy works would be useful for them to chalk up detailed plans and then follow them through to completion.

The key point to note here is that modern-day leaders must understand the bureaucracy as much as they understand where the organization is headed and what it takes to get to the next stage of their evolution.

On balance, what this means is that leaders in the present times must actively participate in monitoring and track the plans to completion. In the real world, this translates to them sitting through meetings wherein they review the progress of the plans and monitor them for any lags and other aspects that are holding them up.

Real World Examples

In addition, a hands-on approach means that they should not also micromanage wherein they become administrators only and not planners or visionaries. Thus, modern-day leaders must be a combination of visionaries and administrators where they have the capacity for planning as much as they have the stomach for the nuts and bolts of execution.

A famous example in this respect is the late Steve Jobs of Apple who was known both for his visionary approaches as much as he was known for his hands on approach to the way the products launched by Apple were being designed and marketed.

Another example is the present PM of India, Narendra Modi, who is known for his innovative schemes as much as he is known for his hands on approach to administration.


Lastly, as the discussion so far highlighted, there is a need for leaders to come up through the ranks as opposed to “inheriting” the post through hereditary and dynastic succession. In this way, it can be ensured that they understand governance as much as they understand the need for vision.

This is the reason why many family-owned businesses also make the younger members toil and work hard for years in various positions up and down the hierarchy where they hone their skills in execution and then combine them with vision once they occupy the top post.

To conclude, hands-on approaches to leadership work for all stakeholders and hence, we recommend future business leaders to keep this in mind when they embark on their careers.

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