Another wee snippet from the book I am working on, 10 Steps to Better Management. Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?
I want to address a common question - what’s the difference between management and leadership? My perspective on this is likely different than what you have heard before or read in leadership books. First, I don’t believe that management and leadership are different positions or jobs. Many companies distinguish managers and leaders based on their pecking order in the organization. That seems like nonsense. We see and experience leadership at all levels of the organization. Some people believe that leadership is something you do when you move beyond management – that leadership is a set of tasks that are somehow higher in level and that it takes more skill to be a leader than it does to be a manager. This belief does not make sense. We see people with all ranges of education and sophistication demonstrate leadership.
What is leadership? Management is a set of methods and practices – a regimen – that allows us to run a business or a piece of the business. Management is a job. Leadership is not a job; it’s the way we do our jobs. Imagine four peer managers sitting in a meeting together discussing the progress of a major project. The discussion could be considered part of management. Having update meetings about major initiatives is one task or function of management. Let’s say that one of those managers, you, demonstrates courage and takes the initiative to openly discuss concerns that the others are too chicken to bring up. At your prompting, the discussion opens up and important concerns are defined and addressed. In fact, the discussion has left the group questioning whether the project is still viable and a good use of time and resources. During that display of courage – in that moment – you demonstrated leadership.
We ought to be managers all the time and show leadership when it’s needed. This is the case will all jobs. If you are a controller, you ought to be a great controller all the time and demonstrate leadership when needed. If you are a front line worker on an assembly line, you ought to be a great screw gun operator all the time and lead when necessary.