Business GEM #7 Management versus Leadership
There is a lot of useful material that seeks to clarify the distinctions and yet also show the interrelatedness between management and leadership roles. Bennis (1985) takes a hard line on the distinction side of the argument when he insists, “The problem with many organizations, and especially the ones that are failing, is that they tend to be over-managed and under-led” (Bennis & Nanus, 1985, p. 21). He goes on to argue that,
There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important. To “manage” means to “bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct.” “Leading” is “influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion.” The distinction is crucial. Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing. The difference can be summarized as activities of vision and judgment—effectiveness versus activities of mastering routines—efficiency. (Bennis & Nanus, p. 21)
This idea of effectiveness versus efficiency is reminiscent of—though it actually precedes the work by Stephen Covey (1989) in
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In fact, on page 101 of the text, Covey quotes Bennis as saying, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” For Covey, leadership deals with the top line, whereas management deals with the bottom line. In other words, management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success, but leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. The nature of the rapidly changing business environment necessities, in Covey’s view, the importance of “creative leadership to keep headed in the right direction” (Covey, 1989, p.102). No amount of management success can adequately compensate for a failure in leadership skill. For according to Covey, “efficient management without effective leadership is, as one individual has phrased it, ‘like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic’” (Covey, p. 102).
Anderson (1998) takes a slightly more interrelated tact when he suggests that the distinction lies more in a fundamental orientation to the roles. The leadership role is more people and process oriented, whereas the management role is more task and result oriented. According to Anderson, management is focused on day- to-day operations, administrative policies, procedures, and data-based decisions. Leadership, on the other hand, is more focused on the future and more engaged in creative planning, team and culture building, and motivating others. However, even though there do exist orientation differences, Anderson maintains that both leadership and management are essential in the corporate enterprise. He argues for such by stating,
Without leadership as the foundation of management, management cannot function effectively because it is undermined by a lack of humanity, clarity, focus, adaptability, and creativity. Without management, leadership might never follow through enough to get the results needed for long-term success. (Anderson, 1998, p.45)
Of special interest here is the emphasis on a leader being a change agent versus the management predisposition to favor predictability and order. It seems that the leader is more comfortable with what Gareth Morgan (1998) calls “chaos and complexity” (Morgan, 1998, p. 222) than their management counterpart.
In the final analysis both leaders and managers, though fundamentally different in orientation, are nevertheless equally important in accomplishing the mission of any thriving organization. The leader articulates the vision, values, and organizational direction in a challenging environment. The manager implements the strategic plan with careful attention to internal consistency and productivity. Said another way, though leadership is fundamental to management; effective management is essential to the attainment of leadership objectives. Neither is self-sufficient.
Both leadership and management must understand their distinctive roles and their interrelated dynamics if the organization is to succeed.
PRIMARY Leadership myth
The primary myth that needs to be dispelled is that leaders are
popular. Our culture creates the perception that popularity translates to leadership. Not true.
Leaders are not popular, there are exceptions. However, since in the democratic process, we elect and chose our "leaders" by popular vote, the perception is that one must be popular to be a "leader."
The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, Hans Finzel (1994) highlights a number of problematic issues that can undermine leadership effectiveness. Again, for the sake of brevity, I will restrict my comments to four, making mention only of the final six. Succinctly stated, those mistakes include,
- The top-down attitude (Finzel, 1994, p. 21), which is a caution against the autocratic leadership of Theory X. Finzel asserts that McGregor’s Theory Y leadership model is much more effective in contemporary organizations in that it emphasizes mutual respect and builds an environment of trust.
- Putting paperwork before people-work (Finzel, p.37). The contention here is that the greater the leadership role the more energy one ought to expend in assuring that time is spent with people—not just on projects. Finzel’s observations that transformation comes through association, and that people are opportunities not interruptions, is a further extension of his Theory Y commitment.
- The absence of affirmation (Finzel, p. 53). Here Finzel ostensibly argues for what Harvard Professor William James has observed as the deepest craving of human nature—the desire to be appreciated.
- No room for mavericks (Finzel, p. 65). The rationale here is that too often our institutions quench any creative initiative simply because that is not the way it is typically done. Hence, the genius of the maverick is quenched because of the lack of zeal by an aging enterprise.
The final six mistakes leaders make are: dictatorship in decision-making (Finzel, p. 81), dirty delegation (Finzel, p. 97), communication chaos (Finzel, p. 113), missing the clues of corporate culture (Finzel, p. 133), success without successors (Finzel, p.157), and failure to focus on the future. (Finzel, p.179).