The difference between Leadership and Management
Tips to Grow your Business
Leadership and Management: Understanding the Difference
Sometime ago, several new supervisors and managers confided in me that their greatest challenge is how to get their former colleagues to want to follow them. Prior to their promotion, they were quite happy being rank and file and keeping below the radar. Somehow, they got noticed and were handed promotions for which they felt they are not quite ready. Now, they are tasked to manage and grow the business. It is not surprising that they were a bit bewildered by their new positions. They were asking these questions:
- What tools do I need?
- What are the best management practices?
- How do I deal with non-performing and under-performing colleagues?
- How do I manage older colleagues?
- How do I resolve conflicts, make decisions, manage time, and manage priorities?
- What do I need to do different?
As you can see from this short list, some are management issues and the others are leadership issues. So how did I answer their questions? First, let me define our terms:
I like to think of management as creating a system that produces predictable results on time, every time. I once ran a small ice plant in San Jose, Antique. My expectation from my operators was for them to produce the rated number of ice blocks every 24 hours. To me, this was management side of the business. I organized and managed the tasks involved in reaching my production target. Management is about tasks and how to accomplish them well.
There are very many definitions of leadership in the literature out there. In this context, I like to think of leadership as getting my people to actually do the work even if I was not watching them like a hawk. My idea of a good leader is when they say “Go this way”, everyone follows. Leadership is about leading people.
Developing Good Management and Leadership Skills
As you can see leadership and management are two very different skills. There are very good managers who are terrible leaders (I put bean counters in this group. Their books of account might be impeccable but the workers are all de-motivated and wish they worked somewhere else). At the same time there are many visionary leaders who cannot be relied upon to wear shoes of the same color (they need their spouses to manage their every day sartorial requirements).
My idea of a great organization is one where the organizational productivity increases while the staff is happy and not overworked. The manager is able maintain a low blood pressure and go home and play with the kids (paying attention to the spouse is of vital importance as well).
An effective manager needs to pay attention to the management and leadership requirements of the organization. He needs to become a person that others want to follow and at the same time, he creates a system that can be relied upon to produce the products of the organization.
Are these skills inherited? Or, can these skills be learned? I believe that these skills can indeed be learned. Look out for more articles about how to become a better manager and leader.
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