Leadership and Management: Which is more important for today’s business environment?

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Late last year, a number of our clients asked us the age-old question of leadership and management: “Are they the same or different?”

Twenty-five years ago, the role of manager was all about creating stability through planning, organising and controlling. Managers worked from a psychological contract of loyalty with employees.

The early 90’s brought leadership into prominence because management alone did not seem to be driving enough change and innovation.

In our view, Leadership and Management today are different yet complementary—both inextricably linked as they drive towards the same outcomes: results, business performance and sustainability.

So what is the difference? You’ll find good answers at www.marcusbuckingham.com and here’s a quick summary.

Management is about driving productivity within the organisation. A manager’s focus needs to be on how to turn the talent of each individual into performance.

Effective managers daily ask themselves:

  • Do the people for whom I am accountable have the opportunity to do what they do best every single day they are at work?
  • Does each person know specifically what’s expected of them in their role?
  • Is every person committed to delivering quality outcomes?

Leadership on the other hand is about being able to reach every person in the organisation in ways that engage their hearts and minds to want to take action that supports moving the company towards a better future. To achieve this requires the ability to envision a tangible and believable future, and be able to lead change and innovation.

The challenge for leaders today is setting a definitive direction amid a sea of rapid change, ambiguity and uncertainty.

Three questions a leader needs to ask are:

  • Who do we serve and what certainty do we have that we are serving them in ways that meet their needs?
  • What are our core strengths and are we doing everything to fully capitalise on them?
  • What is our core score and does every person in our company know the part they have to play in contributing to our score?

Much continues to be written about leadership. But spare a thought for management. Both are necessary for business sustainability. Businesses today needs the leader’s vision to guide change and innovation but little happens without the skill of managersto drive productivity to execute and deliver the required outcomes.

What’s the right leadership /management balance for you in your role?