Leadership and management are two sides of same coin | Daily News
Leading your flock into greener pastures – Part 5:

Leadership and management are two sides of same coin

John Kotter, one of the best-known writers on management, organizational change and transformation once said,

“Leadership is different from management, but not for the reasons most people think. Leadership isn’t mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having “charisma” or other exotic personality traits. It is not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it.”

“Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment. Most modern companies today are over-managed and under-led.”

Yet for all its importance, as Kotter said, leadership is widely misunderstood because many people consider leadership and management to be the same. This confusion is evident as these two terms are routinely used as if they were interchangeable.

Most businesses will not be successful over time without the contributions of both management and leadership. Warren Bennis, expert in Leadership studies - summarized his view with the classic phrase: - Managers do things right; Leaders do the right things.

Key differences

In this section, we will go through some crucial differences between the activities and associated skills of leading and managing.

The following are the broad responsibilities of leaders:

(a) Setting the direction. Clarify the purpose of your team and how it adds value to your organisation by answering questions such as: Why does this team exist? What objectives are we expected to achieve? How can we achieve these objectives?

Answering these questions enables you to clarify and set the objectives that have to be achieved for your team to be successful and the main actions to take to achieve the objectives. In practice, many leaders involve members of their team in completing this analysis to enable them to: (1) Create a shared sense of purpose and meaning to doing their work, (2) Develop a shared responsibility for the team’s success, and (3) Appreciate the team’s and each individual’s priorities

(b) Gaining commitment to action. Members of your team can deliver quite good levels of performance by complying with what you expect of them, but if you really want people to give their best you have to gain their commitment. The difference between people being committed and compliant is ownership: they take ownership for doing the task to the best of their ability rather than just doing it because you want them to. Engage individuals and the whole team through meaningful conversations about the importance of their work and gain their commitment to achieve objectives and deliver results.

(c) Being enthusiastic about ‘raising the bar’. Enthuse about the standards of performance and behaviour you expect from your team. Question and challenge current ways of working and encourage innovation. In most instances, teams think that they’re already performing well and that they can’t significantly improve their performance any more: they can’t raise the bar!

Having a clear picture or vision about the future, including how you see the team functioning, and sharing it enthusiastically encourages members of your team to strive to improve the team’s performance. Set high standards by acting with integrity and modelling the behaviours you expect from others.

(d) Developing the capability of the teams. Act as a coach by encouraging your team members to give their best, by providing them with continual feedback. Hold individuals accountable: recognise and praise good practice, and promptly confront unacceptable performance and behaviour. Agree improvements and the support to be provided, and how to measure progress. Focus the whole team on finding better ways of working together to achieve higher levels of performance.

(e) Making change happen for the better.

Become an active agent, rather than a victim, of change. Leading people involves having a positive impact on how they think, feel and act. It means people within your team and people outside of your responsibility over whom you don’t have authority. You can have a positive impact on your manager, as well as your work colleagues, in striving to make changes happen that lead to better outcomes for your team, your organisation and you.

The following are the broad responsibilities of managers:

(a) Planning the work.

Produce detailed plans and schedules for how and when the team’s work is to be done, including breaking down major tasks into simple steps and agreeing deadlines.

(b) Organising people and other resources.

Assign tasks and responsibilities to team members based on their commitment and capability to do the work, and make best use of the knowledge, skills and expertise in your team. Provide the resources necessary to enable people to do their work.

(c) Monitoring and controlling the work.

Check that the work is being progressed according to plan to achieve the objectives and results your team is expected to deliver.

(d) Establishing and using systems and processes.

Establish and use systems and procedures, including the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that the work is done effectively and efficiently.

(e) Reviewing progress. Conduct reviews to identify problems.

Make decisions to solve problems and take corrective action to get back on track. Use reviews to continue to find more effective and efficient ways of completing projects and tasks.

These two lists indicate that, generally speaking, effective leadership involves taking a fundamental, long-range perspective to work, and enthusing people to excel whereas good management requires you to be hands-on and focused on the day-to-day running of your group or department.

(f) Getting people to follow you. You have the right to manage the people who work for you simply by having the role of being their manager: your job gives you the authority to ask and expect your staff to do whatever is reasonable to get the work done, providing that you’re fair and treat people with respect. You’ve probably experienced occasions when your staff question what you ask them to do, because their interpretation of what’s a reasonable request is different from your interpretation. Here are examples of requests that people may consider to be unreasonable:

(g) Assist each other

Helping a colleague to complete an urgent task when they’re already busy. Staying later than normal at the end of the day to complete a task when they’ve plans to go out with their friends. Working closely with a colleague whom they don’t get on with to complete a task.

Having the right to manage people doesn’t mean that all your staff automatically do what you ask them to even when you’re being reasonable. At times, you may need to use your authority to ensure that an important task is completed by the required deadline, but the more competent you become in leading people the less you have to use that authority in such situations

(h) Be fair with your team members

Some managers are perceived to abuse their authority by the people who report to them. Most people respond positively to being asked to do a task that’s reasonable even if it causes them inconvenience, but people don’t generally respond well to being told what to do when they think that they’re being belittled, made to feel that their needs are ignored, patronised, treated disrespectfully.

Avoid treating people in any of these ways because they can perceive you as abusing your authority and they’re not then willingly doing what you ask them to do.

As you go through the responsibilities of an effective manager, you’ll realise it’s not easy being a manager these days. Talented workers often rebel. They disregard and defy, question and create results. And they ask the question that managers fear most: Why.

Engaging your team

Now, coming back to you - iIf you a leader, that’s the same question you should ask: “Why would anyone follow me?” It takes courage to step up to lead. But no one will follow if you’re not leading for the right reasons. Talent seeks out other talent. And talented employees want leaders who can open their worlds and make them better.

They will choose whether they’re going to do only an ‘okay’ job or a great job for you. They will choose whether to put in the extra effort often necessary to do a great job - often referred to as discretionary effort because they’ve the discretion as to whether they apply it.

Engaged employees do great work. Earn the right to lead your staff by fully engaging them: Build confidence through everyone knowing that they can come to you at any time with any problems at all.

How would you do it?

(a) Inspire them: talk enthusiastically about why and how their work is important, and the consequences of not doing it well. (b) Show a genuine interest in them: Be concerned of their needs, hopes and concerns. (c) Treat them as equals: don’t speak down to them. (d) Value them. It’s not only for who they are, as well as for what they can do for you. (e) Work with them. This is nice rather than doing things to them: ask them for, consider and, if appropriate, use their ideas, views and opinions.

Leading and managing together

Definitely, your job is demanding and you, like most leaders, find fitting everything into your daily schedule difficult: doing your own work as well as leading the people who report to you. In the future instalments we will go through all the intricacies involved.

 

(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired company director with over 35 years’ experience in senior business management. Presently he is a business consultant, freelance newspaper columnist and a writer. He could be contacted on [email protected])


 

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