Leadership vs. Management
Episode #1 of the course Increasing your leadership potential by Bob McGannon
Hi, I’m Bob McGannon, author of Intelligent Disobedience: The Difference between Good and Great Leaders, and welcome to “Increasing Your Leadership Potential.” This course will explore ways for you to demonstrate leadership abilities, whether you are in a leadership position or not. Even if you’re not expected to demonstrate leadership skills, applying the tools used by effective leaders can increase your effectiveness and how you’re viewed by your peers and managers.
Defining Leadership vs. Management
“What is most important, leadership or management?” is a frequently debated question. The answer is clear: In an effective organization, you need to utilize both. Leadership involves rallying others around an idea you can demonstrate is beneficial, and describing a pathway to make that idea a reality. To do this, you may have to bend, break, or invent new rules. Certainly, you at least need to invent new business processes. In contrast, management involves embracing the rules: training, reinforcing, and applying them to the way business is conducted, so people behave in a predictable, repeatable way.
A genuine leader applies both leadership and management characteristics to be effective. For example, when leading a change initiative, you’ll have to define the nature of the change, sell it to your colleagues, and show how you will achieve your objectives. You’ll also need to define and defend rules or business processes that will NOT be altered by your change, and ensure that the integrity of those processes is maintained.
Juggling the Mix between Leadership and Management
Understanding when to embrace a leadership or management mindset is vital. Too much focus on “the rules” (management) when trying to drive business improvement, and you will stifle creativity and innovation. Too much focus on changing things (leadership), and you run the risk of creating chaos as you simultaneously try to generate change and operate your current business practices.
To juggle these potentially opposing mindsets effectively, consider:
• Allocating specific people and timeframes for working on a change initiative. Rarely will the best and smartest people be able to work full time on a change. However, negotiating the best resources to be available four to eight hours a week may be feasible. Others can design the change with guidance and support from the “best and brightest” who will dedicate those four to eight hours/week to help you.
• Determining “boundaries” for current business performance and backing off your change initiative if those boundaries are exceeded. For example, if you can process 80 customer orders a day under normal circumstances, you may want to set a new target of 70 a day for the period of time you are making a change. If your actual productivity drops below 70/day, then you back off on the time and resources you dedicate to the change until you achieve your minimum daily productivity target. Consistently reinforce your interest in monitoring the progress of your change and the results your current business support team are achieving. Your leaders should see you participating—with keen interest—in both!
How Do You Know If You Are Properly Balancing the Approaches?
First, focus on the results! If a) your change initiative is progressing well, b) your current business performance is achieving the established targets, and c) your change and current business team are happy, you likely have it nailed!
Second, ask! Talk with your managers and team members, and ask them where they believe your focus lies. If you get one-sided answers, such as “you are all about change” or “your focus is only on the productivity of our current business” without mentioning both, then you may want to consider altering your focus or how you communicate your interest until you get more balanced answers.
Whether you are a manager, team leader, or a team member, appreciating and supporting the need for both leadership and management is the first step toward being perceived as a leader in your organization.
In my next email, I will share why you need absolutely NO educational qualifications to be an effective leader.
Have a great day, and “talk” to you tomorrow!
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