In recent work with a senior leadership group, the discussion moved to what percentage of time should be spent leading versus managing.
It stands to reason that the more senior the executive, the more time should be focused on leadership activities verses those of management. Yet without exception, the experience of this group was the reverse, with the highest percentage of time devoted to management activities.
This is not the first time we have encountered this with senior leaders, executives and managers. Which raises these questions:
- What contributes to today’s over-emphasis on management at the expense of leadership?
- What can senior leaders do about it?
A clue comes from further down in the organisation where people mostly say they lack a clear and vivid picture of the destination, how their role contributes to that picture and the outcomes required from them. What people are looking for is more than a vision. It is something concrete they can use to guide their thinking, activities and behaviours. Together with an understanding of ‘why’.
Lack of clarity in a concrete direction not only challenges a manager’s ability to drive participative goal setting, but also makes it impossible for individual, team and business unit goals to align with the organisation’s goals.
This in turn makes it impossible to accurately anticipate and allocate resources (people, time, money and materials), negotiate clear accountabilities and assign the required authority levels people need to act independently.
This is frustrating for managers and their people.
- Managers may procrastinate, resulting in lost time, rework and decisions pushed up to higher level management.
- People may feel their initiative stifled, which creates dependence on those in more senior leadership roles. In some circumstances, people even avoid taking action because they believe the risk is too high.
Ultimately, without an effective balance of leadership and management, both managers and people lose motivation. Their job satisfaction drops, constraining their productivity and hobbling innovation.
Are you over-managing and under-leading? Talk to us at Vivente to help you figure out another way.