This article was first published about 20 years ago. It’s even more relevant today:
Leadership is the art of inspiring people to undertake an adventure in the pursuit of a common goal. Management is the disciplined process that provides the infrastructure that enables people to achieve the goal. Leadership and management are different from each other, but they go together hand in glove.
Leadership is visionary, big picture and more right brained. It challenges and encourages people to look beyond the immediate to change the way things are. Leadership inspires people to strive for a bold, common goal, a desired future, and take the actions needed to get there. Leadership sets the tone, the direction, and models the behavior for people to achieve extraordinary results. It is about the head and the heart. It arouses people’s passions. Leadership is getting people to want to do something – the right thing. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader. So was John F. Kennedy. They inspired others to action, to pioneer, to see themselves differently, to blaze new trains, to achieve breakthroughs.
Management is about structure, process, discipline, predictability, control, and results. It is more left brained. It enables people to pursue their dreams through marshaling and deploying resources. It is about the details and monitoring progress to keep people focused and on-target. It seeks innovation, refinement, incremental improvement, and predictable results, but no breakthroughs. Management is concerned with doing things right. Management without leadership preserves the status quo, and encourages complacency, bureaucracy and mediocrity.
Many “well-managed” businesses have languished for lack of leadership. Even a well-run business like Hewlett Packard (remember, this was 20 year ago) had to have its founders return from retirement to shake them up in the 1980s, and Carly Fiorina at the turn of the century. Though management may not be as glamourous as leadership, “The devil is in the details.”
While great ideas are essential to an enterprise, 85% of them never get implemented because of faulty execution. Great management gets things right – the first time, and thereafter. Leadership without management may inspire people to strive for a goal, but then frustrate them by not enabling them to achieve it. Many start-up high tech companies have had leadership without management. Talented people come on board to pursue an exciting vision. Then they beat their hearts out when the infrastructure to support them is not in place. They encounter allocation of resources by whim, duplication of effort, ad hoc procedures, and inattention to important issues while details are micro-managed. They are expected to achieve great results but lack access to the needed support. Within a year their great hopes and enthusiasm are dashed. They leave disillusioned, or stay for stock options that lock the in to pursuing an ever-receding pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Synergy: to compete successfully in today’s evolving economy, and into the future, an organization needs both: leadership to inspire people and management to enable them. Both skills can be developed with the right tools. Market leadership, and sustained growth and profits come only when there is a healthy synergy of leadership and management.
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…and too many Managers think they are great Leaders. Not! Some can be with focus, discipline, time & education.
But that is a discussion for another day.