Management or Leadership?

This is an age-old discussion – what the role is of a manager vs. a leader. >/p>

Warren Bennis has likely done more to popularize this distinction than anyone else. He wrote in Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader that “There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important. To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in a direction, course, action, opinion. The distinction is crucial.” And in one of his most famous lines, he added, “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.”

Unfortunately, some leaders now see their job as just coming up with big and vague ideas, and they treat implementing them, or even engaging in conversation and planning about the details of them, as mere “management” work. And worse still, this distinction seems to be used as a reason for leaders to avoid the hard work of learning about the people that they lead and the customers they serve. “Big picture only” leaders often make decisions without considering the constraints that affect the cost and time required to implement them, and even when evidence begins mounting that it is impossible or unwise to implement their grand ideas, they often choose to push forward anyway.

There has to be balance between the two. The best leaders do something that is really a mix of leadership and management. At a minimum, they lead in a way that constantly takes into account the importance of management. To do the right thing, a leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right, and to make sure they actually get done.

When we boil down the whole leadership versus management debate – there are a few things that need to be considered:

  • Every company needs someone focused on doing both. There must be someone serving the role of CEO (big picture thinker) and someone filling the role of the Manager (get it executed)
  • These are not mutually exclusive nor do they have to be at odds with each other
  • It is difficult for one person to effectively do both roles consistently
  • Much of the success that can happen when done right centers around effective communication between the roles and with the entire team
  • Execution is still the only thing that truly matters – big pictures that are not executed are just hallucination!

    Make sure your company is practicing both roles. Balance them through continual open communication. Lead by assuring execution so you don’t spend your time spinning your wheels and hallucinating about what could be and should be. Determine the course and get it done!

    Written by RLO Training