Our Thoughts

Management and Leadership

Management and Leadership

Broadly speaking, management is about overseeing processes, resources and people to achieve the desired outcome (usually pre-determined).  This typically involves carrying out supervisory duties, motivating individuals, managing resources, prioritising and possibly even providing training.

Leadership is about seeing the bigger picture, observing from a distance and setting direction on a bigger scale.  Leadership involves motivating and inspiring others to get on board with your vision and follow your plans.

In our work we often come across statements about the differences between management and leadership;

“Leaders create change. Managers maintain stability.”

“Leaders coach.  Managers direct.”

“Leadership is about vision. Management is about processes.”

“Managers have people working for them. Leaders influence and inspire people to follow them.”

Some of these descriptions are more accurate than others but they all contrast the two roles in a black and white way.  In reality, often managers will find themselves providing leadership to their team and leaders may have to manage the day-to-day activities as part of implementing their vision.

We see the need for both within the organisations, teams and even within the individuals we work with.  One without the other over a long time can spell disaster – people either get stuck in a rut or struggle to keep up with change. Having both management and leadership qualities ensures growth and efficiency – both relevant to the sustainability of a business.

When we work with clients to develop their leadership skills, we turn to the work of Goleman and Heifetz & Linsky.  Goleman proposed six leadership styles; coaching, affliliative, democratic, commanding, pacesetting and visionary.  You could say they vary along a managment-leadership continuum, with some being more process- or task-focused and others being more creative and visionary.  Good leaders are said to display a combination of most approaches in any week.  In practical terms, it is almost impossible to separate management from leadership – they both overlap in so many ways.

Heifetz and Linsky’s balcony analogy further supports this idea of the flexible relationship of management and leadership.  They describe getting up “on the balcony above the dance floor” to observe and interpret the bigger picture.  This approach of sitting back and observing from a distance is more typical of a leader than a manager, though the key is being able to move between the two positions – they are not fixed roles.

We’d love to hear what you think.  Are you a leader/ manager?  Do you display typical behaviours of both?

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OM Change & Transformation Ltd

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