“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” ~ Nelson Mandela
In many discussions on Leaders and Managers the focus is based on an EITHER – OR argument.
If you are a LEADER, you focus on X; if you are a MANAGER, you focus on Y where X and Y are often on different ends of the spectrum.
As in most things in life, reality does not exist in either Black or White. “Leadership” issues and “Management” issues merge in a “grey” zone where each perspective is important to the success of the organization. If your organization is one where the individual is both the Leader and the Manager, it is important to understand when and which hat to wear so that these differing attributes can be brought to bear at the correct time and in the correct place for the organization.
So, let’s review 8 differentiators between Leadership attributes and Management attributes:
The ability to know when to bring forth Leadership attributes or Management attributes is largely predicated on the organization’s point in its growth cycle. New start-ups need to focus on Leadership to define and create. After the organization achieves a certain level of growth, it requires stability and management to allow it to hone its processes and build its staff resources so that it can advance to a new plateau. At various points in the growth cycle, leadership attributes must again be brought to bear to address the challenges of competitive markets; economic downturns and revenue stagnation; uninspired employees; overburdening bureaucratic processes, among others that make the organization no longer an effective force in its markets. This Yin and Yang of stability and change and the roles that a Leader and a Manager bring to the table is part of the process of growth, stability and renewal in making the organization sustainable over time. It is critical as a business leader that both leadership and management skills are well honed so that they can be used when relevant and appropriate to guide the organization.
As you look at your role and your organization, ask yourself, “What attributes are important at this point in time to my organization?” “Do I value both roles: the Manager; the Leader?” “Do I know when to switch between roles?” Knowing when and how to focus those attributes is imperative to your organization’s continuing success.