Management versus Leadership

There is plenty of talk about management versus leadership, often pitting the two in opposition to one another.

Generally the contrast is based on a leader being focused on inspiration, and a manager being focused on activities.

I agree with these assessments, but I also believe both are necessary in a well-run company.

Leaders and Leadership

The first thing to remember about leaders is: anybody can be one. The higher up the org chart, and the more people that report to you, the more important it is to exhibit good leadership qualities. But any employee at any position in the company can embody all the qualities of leadership.

Leadership is about goals. Leaders focus on the long-term, and encourage the attitudes and skills required to get there.

A strong leader creates an environment of innovation, collaboration, and enforces all the cultural standards of a business. A leader is also comfortable with taking risk and trying new ideas and directions for the business.

Think of words like inspiration, motivation, culture, and values.

A successful leader leads by creating new leaders.

Managers and Management

In the meantime, somebody has to track performance. Somebody has to be responsible for the actual tasks and daily outcomes of a business.

This is why managers are also valuable.

Managers are appointed and designated specifically to be managers. They are responsible for the immediate performance of the team they manage.

A manager must be tracking activities, task completion, process adherence, and work outcomes. Tracking, measuring, and analyzing these factors is the only way to learn what works well, what can be improved and how the business creates operational value internally.

A successful manager makes his people do more without even realizing it.

Being both a Manager and Leader

Is of course possible. But it can only be done with an explicit understanding of the differences in priorities between the two, and ensuring both outcomes are encouraged in the proper measure.