What are the Differences in Leadership and Management?

I’m often asked to define the differences between leadership and management. And each time I’m forced to define them, I get challenged. In this article, I’m going to pull out the qualities of each and discuss how to develop each of them. Both are so important to an organization and both require care and consideration when selecting the person for the role. Peter Drucker has been quoted as saying “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.Let’s look first at management.Oftentimes, we discuss management in terms of the ability to get work done through others. However, as organizations have become flatter, we have many managers who manage process and programs vs. people. Are they any less of a manager? In fact, most compensation and promotion programs move people through at least the title of manager on their way to director so the true scope of the work that the manager is responsible for has changed.Who makes a good manager? If I had the silver bullet answer to this question, I would be wealthy beyond imagination. However, we can examine what seems to make some managers successful and others not so successful. Most managers have one common trait–that is the ability to manage both tasks and process. That is why there are so many people out there with the word “manager” in their job title. However, many of them don’t manage people. Think about it, there are thousands of project managers out there with no direct reports. They manage the process but not the people. They have influence but not direct responsibility.In searching for good managers, it is incumbent on the organization to think first about the position. Does the incumbent manage task and process or do they manage task, process, and people? The two are very different. It is hard to find someone who does all three really well. The person who manages task and process if oftentimes a thinker who enjoys the analytical part of the job more than the people part of the job. They are more comfortable with spreadsheets, workflow charts, and process metrics than they are with people development and people challenges. As you think about the position, it is critical to think about the two very different profiles. Generally we get two out of three and really, with today’s talent shortage, having two out of three key qualities isn’t bad at all. We can generally compensate for or develop the missing third.As with any key role, it is critical to line up organizational culture fit, skill fit, and personality traits. Time and time again, we’ve proven that when these three are in alignment, we get better business results (think profit) and happier employees.Now, let’s think about leadership.What is the critical change that takes place as someone moves from manager to leader? And is it a linear process? I believe that is is in fact a much more dynamic shift that takes place in the leader’s affect and way of being. I don’t think we can “train for it” but I do think we can nurture and develop it.Leader’s have been defined by their legacy not their management style. Ken Blanchard said that “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” That leads me to believe that leaders are different than managers. As we think about leadership, we must think about the skills and qualities that a leader, vs. a manager, brings to the table.Leaders must be able to set the course for some end goal. Whether it is a project or a corporate strategic direction, the leader must have the ability to influence if they are going to rally support for the mission. I’ve seen leaders that can take a group of exhausted implementation consultants and rally them into working even harder to achieve great things. I’ve also seen an appointed “leader” brow-beat her people into exhaustion. And those war torn veterans have no interest in achieving great things anymore. According to the Gallup organization, 71% of the United States workforce is either not engaged or is actively disengaged in work. Does the leader have anything to do with this? I think so.The leader’s influence is stronger than a manager’s line authority whether or not that manager is managing a process or managing people.Here are three questions we need to ask ourselves as we think about management and leadership within our own organizations:1. How do we find that unique blend of charisma, vision, and practical thinking that come together to form a leader and how do we get more of it within our companies?2. Since everyone isn’t going to be a leader in our organizations, how do we develop good managers and target and develop specific managers for leadership positions?3. What are the gaps in management and leadership that we are currently facing?First, let’s examine the blend of charisma, vision, and practical thinking. How do we assess what is needed within our organization and then, how do we go about getting it. In terms of charisma, I think it is generally a blend of personality, energy, and brevity. A unique recipe is needed for each organization, department, or team. Thoughtful consideration and analysis can help us find out what is needed. Start with talking to the team. Then, talk with the current organizational leaders. What’s missing is what is needed and sometimes it is a gut feeling that will help you identify the missing skills.Secondly, I think that great leaders have both innate talent and the ability to learn and develop. Therefore, we must develop our managers. The key to management development is insight and the key to insight is 360 degree feedback. There are great tools on the market that will allow organizations to assess and then develop their managers using 360 feedback. Most studies show that this is one of the few tools that actually make a difference in the manager’s mindset. Most managers, whether they manage task and process or task, process, and people, rarely make changes in their “style” unless they have an event that forces them to. A 360 event can provide insight like no other event can, with little risk, and those are the types of events that move the needle from manager to leader. Or we realize that the needle doesn’t move and we can make different decisions about that person within the organization.Finally, what gaps are we currently facing? As the Millennial’s are coming into the workplace, we are going to have to deal with a generation that isn’t used to leadership and at the same time is impatient for advancement. They have been conditioned and trained to work in groups where each and every person has an equal voice and leadership, if there is any, is a role that is shared. In addition, we have Generation X moving quickly into the ranks of senior leadership and many of them have very little corporate loyalty. We need to have programs that meet the needs of both of our generational leaders. For the Gen X managers, we need to help them trust the organization and themselves. For The Millennial folks we need to help them think about the responsibility and reward that comes with leading others. Using tools to provide coaching and mentorship to both of these groups will go a long way in helping them succeed.It will take time and reflection, but any organization can develop both managers and leaders and the rewards for doing so will be shown on the organizations balance sheet. Because the companies who fail to plan for organizational growth and survival will ultimately underperform. Talent will leave and so will institutional knowledge and skills. Leaders will go where they are wanted. And, everyone needs good managers.Learn More at Talent Insight Group