Leadership or Management? – We’re certain you need both

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Periodically this “age old” question is raised with our coaches in one form or another “leadership and management – are they the same or different and should I focus on being a leader or manager?”

Go back 25 years and leading along with planning, organising and controlling was considered part of a manager’s role.  Hill and Lineback in their December 2011 HBR Blog “I’m A Leader, Not a Manager” confirm this view. Further, they go on to say that it was in the early 90’s that leadership came to prominence as a focus because it was considered that management did not focus strongly enough on change and innovation.

Today, the view is that Leadership and Management are different yet our belief is that they are inextricably linked as they drive towards the same outcomes; results, business performance and sustainability.

Opinions and views on what mangers do are many and varied, however, our belief is a manager’s focus needs to be on driving productivity.  Marcus Buckingham in his work on developing a strength based approach to leadership echoes these views.

In fact Buckingham believes that today a manager’s focus needs to be on how to turn the talent of each individual in yurt team into performance. Accepting this premise there are three questions managers need to ask themselves daily:

  • Do the people for whom I am accountable have the opportunity to do what they do best ever 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 is ways that engage their hearts and minds to want to take action that supports moving the company towards a sustainable 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.  Buckingham raises three questions all leaders need to consider:

  • 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 are our critical measures and does every person in our company know the part they have to play in contributing to achievement of those measures?

Focus on leadership continues with much being written 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 managers to drive productivity to execute and deliver the required outcomes.