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Anyone who follows
business literature can easily track the rise and fall of leadership and management
as opposed disciplines. Sometimes the demand is for more vision and
inspiration; other times, it’s for more measurement and control. Fundamentally,
though, the two disciplines cannot work apart.
management can’t sustain change or improve the now. At the same time,
management without leadership is a soulless endeavor best suited to controlling
the actions of spoiled children.
I’ve watched many
good leader/manager pairs working together over the years. Some ran small
businesses; others worked on massive projects with hundreds of people and
millions of dollars. But no matter what the setting, they shared many of the
#1: Leaders inspire; managers measure
When leaders finish
speaking, the listeners want to go out and change the world. They get fired up
and moving, willingly facing problems they would have ignored before. This
energy gradually fades until the leader reestablishes it.
finish speaking, everyone knows what is expected of them, how it will be
measured, and what results to expect. In other words, they know exactly what
they have to do. This knowledge remains valid until the goal changes.
#2: Leaders guide, managers navigate
Leaders give their
followers a general idea of where they want to take the team. The team members
then do their level best to get from the current state to the future state,
using the skills they posses to cover the gap.
describe what they want done, they includes clear instructions regarding the
who, what, when, where, why, and how of the gap plan. The team then enacts the
plan in a, hopefully anyway, organized fashion.
#3: Leaders envision, managers maintain
Leaders speak about
the future as if it already exists. They see it, taste it, and can sometimes
even feel it just out of reach. This vision allows them to show the team what
could be, lifting them out of habitual ruts.
about what they currently see and measure. They explain clearly how things
operate and identify metrics to further refine that operation. These metrics
may help change; more often, they reinforce existing habitual behaviors.
#4: Leaders talk, managers listen
The essence of
leadership lies in knowing when to talk and what to say to reach your team.
Sometimes that means sitting silently. The Japanese say “eloquence is
silver, silence is golden” for a reason. Regardless of technique, though,
leaders’ immediate goals always revolve around opening the way to communicate a
vision to their target audience.
The essence of
management lies in knowing when to gather data and what data points are needed
to manipulate the team or the political environment. Managers listen carefully,
make notes, and then come to a decision about the situation as it exists in the
#5: Leaders support, managers teach
The very best
leader I ever worked for asked me, “What can I do for you today?” every day,
without fail. If I needed resources, he found them; if I needed time, he got
deadlines pushed back. He gave me the support and the space I needed to excel
or fall flat on my face.
The very best
manager I ever worked for asked me, “Do you need any help?” every day without
fail. If I needed training, he arranged for it; if I didn’t know how to handle
something, he taught me how to do it himself. Whenever I came upon something I
didn’t know, I knew he could show me how to do it.
#6: Leaders hope, managers analyze
seem unattached to reality. Their focus on the future, on a vision of what
could be, gives them great hope with which to weather trials. It also sometimes
leads them to ignore problems that honestly need addressing before the future
can come to be.
Managers, on the
other hand, clearly see the present with all its warts and flaws. This clarity
gives them the ability to resolve current issues; it also can create a loop in
which they can’t change things because they know only “the way things have
always been done.”
#7: Leaders authorize, managers direct
Leaders expand their
scope of action by authorizing their followers to act within a scope. This
authorization carries with it a part of the leader’s own authority and entrusts
the subordinate with a part of the leader’s vision.
Managers expand their
scope of action by directing subordinates within their team to perform specific
tasks or processes until they reach a specific end point. This direction does
not empower the subordinate with the manager’s authority; it does, however,
have definite boundaries and a finite duration.
#8: Leaders rally, managers retrench
When things go
wrong, leaders gather their team together, reestablish the vision, inspire the
group, and then go out to protect them while they deal with the situation. Leaders
stand up, do what’s right, and accept the consequences of their team’s actions
as their own. The team continues to work and react in the background.
When things go
wrong, managers gather their team together, identify the exact problem, create
a plan to address it, assign tasks, and dispatch the team with strict
instructions. Assuming the initial analysis identified the problem and no other
problems arise, the team will quickly resolve the issue and then return to
#9: Leaders expect, managers demand
expect particular behaviors from their followers. They want specific types of
integrity, work ethic, and methods of communication. Leaders know their team
borders on functional when everyone within the team behaves in the same way.
Managers, on the
other hand, demand specific outputs from their subordinates at particular
times. They derive these demands either from established role documentation,
agreed-upon dates, or expectations set during meetings. These demands tie back
to established success metrics for the manager, the team, or both.
Success requires both
Management has garnered a bad name for itself over the years,
for a wide variety of reasons. However, it is still a vital part of every IT
and business environment. Without it, all the leadership in the world can’t
create a sustainable change. Of course, the opposite also holds true. Without
leadership, management does little more than defend the status quo against