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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Balancing Leadership with Management

In the many related workshops I conducted, I always get an opportunity to ask participants what they think is the difference between leadership and management.  I'd say that more people can't tell the difference and  often realize that they're doing more of one over the other.

Today, I share my personal opinion on why those who are responsible for leading people and getting things done through others need to  take stock of their ability to apply leadership and management practices in healthy balanced doses because an imbalance may prove to be inimical to their success.

Here's a picture of a perfect world of work: people are passionate about what they do and will do anything within their power to contribute to organizational success. In such a perfect world, leaders just need to lead and people will manage their own work. This world, doesn't exist. In the real world, too many people are miscast in their role and will need external triggers to make them do their work. It is on this premise that I recommend the following:

Practice leadership by:

  • Having a commonly shared vision. As a leader you can sell your own vision to others hoping that they buy it or co-create a commonly desired future with your team members. 
  • Agree on a set of norms that will serve as your team's commonly held values. 
  • Continually pursue change by asking how things can be done better and allowing people to take risk in trying new things. 
  • Play the role of a coach or a mentor whose goal is to bring out the best in people. 
  • Continue to keep people engaged by motivating them and sharing leadership with them

Practice Management by:

  • Putting systems in place that will make work effective and efficient. Tools for planning, directing, organizing and controlling are indispensable means for getting things done.
  • Manage people's performance by setting performance goals, monitoring performance, evaluating performance and putting in place carrot and stick mechanisms to reward compliance and correct performance. 
  • Put together a code of discipline, make the implication of nonperformance clear and act on it when needed. Be ready to let go of people who do not contribute to team effectiveness.
When there is not enough leadership, teams stagnate to current practices, lose their foresight and sense of ownership. When there's not enough management, too many mistakes happen and things don't move as fast and as efficiently as they should.  We balance leadership and management because we want to have a sense of where we collectively want to go, how to get there and how to get there in the most efficient manner possible.

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