Friday, 20 June 2014

Leadership vs Management

I’ve written about Leadership earlier this year and that was all about the qualities that make a good leader.

Now I want to look at the whole issue of the difference between Leadership and Management.

Pretty much all of us know the quote by Walter Bennis: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.”  
Well, it’s not quite as simple as that, is it?

There are plenty of managers who do the right thing and are terrific leaders. It’s just that they still have to do those manager-y things like creating and maintaining structure, ensuring the right systems are in place to get things done, handling the day to day details and minutiae, setting goals for their teams and so on.

Leaders on the other hand do the big picture stuff; their role is to motivate and inspire and to bring ‘vision’ to life so that others will want to follow it. They shape policy, define an organisation’s ethos, see potential pitfalls and think ahead, way ahead.

Leadership

Here’s a recent example at Impact Factory.

The Leadership Team is continually looking at areas to develop in the company and one we highlighted was our relationship with our Open Course bookers. We wanted those relationships to be as good as those we have with our tailored clients and the delegates on our courses.

We knew what we wanted to achieve and we were able to create an overall briefing document. We asked two of our free-lance trainers – Isabel and Katy - who have great customer service skills, to take this on as a project, which they have done with gusto.

We created the vision and end goal; they have created the structures and processes to make it happen. We clarified our ‘vision’, gave them a lot of encouragement and motivation; they deal with day to day nitty gritty.

The Leadership Team doesn’t really need to get involved in ‘how’ Isabel and Katy are managing this project; they report top-line accomplishments, bring to our attention any issues that need addressing not within their remit and they get on with it. We continue to encourage and assure them we are here if they need. We know things are happening and can see results without having to micro-manage.

That’s a clear and straight-forward illustration of when the leadership and management roles are clear and we all know what we are responsible for.

However, it isn’t always thus! We do know from experience that one of the hardest transitions is when a manager moves into a leadership role. A lot more is expected, there’s far more responsibility and without the right skills, leadership can feel quite burdensome.

What can happen is that new leaders will often ‘revert to type’ and keep their heads in the day to day, get lost in too much detail and somehow hope it will all come out right in the end. When this happens, new leaders are often seen as weak, wishy-washy and even invisible.

Years ago I remember talking with a client about the differences between leaders and managers and she said, “I know someone has leadership potential when they just keep making decisions. They don’t have to be the right decisions, they just have to be decisions.”

It was a good point: good leaders don’t dither or procrastinate; they may not always make successful decisions, but that decisiveness has a cascade impact on building trust, motivating others, moving things forward and building confidence.

Our Leadership Development courses are a great place to refresh your leadership skills and also to understand more fully the difference between managing and leading which makes life so much easier for everyone around you.


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