Monday Mornings with Madison

The Need To Lead

Much has been written and said about management and leadership over the last century. The question most often posed is whether there is a difference between managing and leading. The simple answer is yes.  But separating the two is not so simple.  More importantly, in today’s world, not only is it nearly impossible to separate management from leadership, it isn’t even practical or good.

Once upon a time — at the height of the industrial revolution and before the advent of the technological revolution — it was correct to call a manager just that…. a manager.  The foreman of an industrial-era factory gave little thought to what was being produced or about the people producing it.  His job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the necessary tasks to the right people, coordinate the results, and ensure the job was done as ordered on time.  The focus was efficiency.  The typical foreman managed work; not people.

Today, management and leadership go hand-in-hand.  They are not the same or synonymous but they are inextricable.  If we were to boil it down to a singular statement, the manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate while the leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. But there is more to it than that.  In today’s complex workplace, it is vital that every organization have people who can lead and people who can manage… preferably some who can do both.  Unfortunately, there tends to be too much management and not enough leadership.  What are the primary differences between leading and managing?   Why is there a greater need for people who can lead?

Managing vs. Leading

Leaders and managers are inherently different.  A well-known book on leadership titled “On Becoming a Leader” by Warren Bennis did a good job of highlighting the differences between leadership and management.

A manager administers.  A leader develops. 
A manager is a replica.  A leader is unique; an original. 
A manager copies others.  A leader creates. 
A manager maintains the status quo.  A leader innovates. 
A manager accepts the status quo.  A leader challenges the status quo. 
A manager focuses on systems and structure.  A leader focuses on people. 
A manager controls.  A leader inspires trust. 
A manager has a short-term agenda.  A leader has a long-term perspective. 
A manager asks how and when.  A leader asks what and why. 
A manager is focused on the bottom line.  A leader is focused on the horizon. 
A manager is a solider that follows order.  A leader is a general that directs. 
A manager does things right.  A leader does the right thing. 

In the new economy – a global marketplace where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people and where workers are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine — management and leadership are not easily separated.  Employees look to their manager to not only assign them a task but also to clarify the purpose.  In turn, managers need to not only organize workers in order to maximize efficiency but must also nurture their skills, develop their talent and inspire them to achieve ever greater results.

Legendary management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to identify the emergence of the “knowledge worker” and how this would impact the way businesses would be organized.  Drucker said that “With the rise of the knowledge worker, one does not ‘manage’ people. The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.  That, then, is the primary difference between a leader and a manager.

The Need for More Leadership

Most people who are in charge of supervising the work of others understand their functions as managers.  They are effective at administering, copying, maintaining, controlling and following.  They have short-term agendas and no vision.  They accept things as they are.  They don’t rock the boat because most companies reward those who get-along and go-along.   In many companies, it is inherently understood that to rise in the ranks, the rank-and-file managers will follow orders and tow the line.

Unfortunately, that is not what most companies need.  To be competitive, American businesses need innovators and originators.  They need those who will thoughtfully challenge things that don’t make sense and ask the why of everything.  Businesses today, to compete globally, need people who have a long-term vision and the character to win the trust of others.  These are the skills that are most often lacking.

In a study done of managers and leaders, managers were found to be risk-averse while leaders were seen as risk-seeking.  But that does not mean that they were blind thrill-seekers. Risk-taking is necessary for a company to break new ground, invent new products and penetrate new markets.  Unlike managers, leaders consider it natural to encounter problems and hurdles that must be overcome along the way in pursing a vision. Leaders will happily break rules in order to get things done.

The study also found that a surprising number of leaders had overcome some form of handicap in their lives, such as traumatic childhoods and physical challenges such as dyslexia, stuttering, or shortness. This seems to have taught them the independence of mind needed to go out on a limb and not worry what others think.

11 Leadership Traits

Here are 11 qualities that can help make a good manager into a good leader.

1.  Listen completely.  Ernest Hemingway was quoted as saying that “most people never listen.”  Listening is key to leading because it is key to any good relationship.

2.  Tell stories.  Stories engage people and inspire them to act. Become a good storyteller.

3.  Be authentic.  Authenticity is characterized as being genuine, vulnerable, humble, and positive.

4.  Be transparent.  This is just another word for being truthful…. the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

5.  Be part of the team.  Encourage others to shine and take a back seat when it is time to take credit.

6.  Be responsive.  Demonstrate strong communication skills by taking the time to reply to others.

7.  Be open to change.  Flexibility is key to managing people and opportunities.  Intractability is a fatal flaw in a leader.

8.  Demonstrate passion.  It is important to love what you do and show that to others.  Those that don’t love what they do should do something else.

9.  Keep others excited and guessing.  The power to surprise and delight is intoxicating.  Most great leaders have been very good at this.

10.  Be straightforward.  There is no need to make things complicated.  It is best to keep things simple to help others buy into the vision.

11.  Be grateful.  Gratitude is the greatest enticement of a great leader.  A leader understands the value of people and is able to express in a straightforward, passionate and genuine way his / her appreciation of what employees bring to the table. Grateful bosses make the most effective leaders.  Those leaders will be able to lead anyone anywhere.

Gone are the days of managers that don’t lead and leaders that don’t manage.  Today, the two are inextricably connected.  However, businesses today need managers to become better leaders, not the other way around.  After all, it is the leader who unlocks people’s potential to become better.

Quote of the Week

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams


© 2013, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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