tranzition executive recruitment

Leadership:

Why it’s much more than just Management

"Inventories can be managed, but people must be led."

H Ross Perot

 

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership."
Dwight D Eisenhower

 

"The only safe ship in a storm is leadership"
Faye Wattleton

 

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For a team, department or organisation to succeed in today’s challenging business environment, it is clear that more is required than just good management.  Good management may produce good results in times of economic prosperity and a buoyant marketplace, but it just isn’t enough to keep a business afloat when the market becomes more turbulent.  It is simply common sense that the challenges of today’s business world cannot be effectively met with the management solutions of yesterday.  Leadership is essential!

 

Leaders may manage, and managers may lead, but the two functions are certainly not synonymous, because equally, there are managers who do not lead, and leaders who do not manage.  However, both leadership and management are vital to business success, particularly in the current economy.

 

So what is leadership?  And more importantly, what is good leadership, and how do we do it?

 

Whilst management ensures that work gets done, policies and procedures get followed, and targets get met, leadership is about having a vision and articulating that vision in such a way that others are inspired and motivated to follow you and your vision.  An oft-repeated proverb states that management is doing things right, whilst leadership is about doing the right things.

 

It could be suggested that, in an organisation with well-established and clear policies, procedures and values, anyone could manage, but not just anyone could lead.  Ideally, management is a subset of leadership, meaning that a great leader is a great manager, plus much more. 

 

Opinions differ as to the characteristics of a great leader, but here are some commonly agreed traits:

 

·         Vision                                                              

·         Integrity

·         Charisma

·         Drive

·         Focus

·         Innovation

·         Courage

·         Independence

·         Strategy

 

 

Another way of viewing the distinction, but also the synergy, between leadership and management is to say that a leader knows where to go and why, whilst a manager knows how to get there.  Or, from another perspective, leadership is about ‘looking out’, whilst management is about ‘looking in’ – both views are necessary for the organisation to travel from Point A to Point B whilst keeping itself intact.

Having said that true leadership is rare, that does not mean that it cannot be learnt.  Although we often hear about ‘natural born leaders’, there is no such thing.  Leadership skills, like management skills, must be learned and honed, through training and development programs, coaching and mentoring, and hands-on practical application. 

 

Although there is a theoretical approach to leadership, training programs that focus exclusively, or primarily, on leadership theory are almost certain to fail, because:

 

·         Leaders are, and should be, individuals, so an individualised approach to leadership development is critical;

·         Knowing what to do, and knowing how to do it are two entirely different things – an experiential approach is essential to embedding the skill in the context, and giving the leader confidence in their ability to lead in any situation, whatever challenges are thrown at them;

·         Leaders learn best by example, so a program that incorporates individual or small group coaching or mentoring exposes participants to ‘leadership in motion’ through role modelling;

·         Given that great leaders aren’t born, but developed, an effective leadership development program must expose participants to hands-on scenarios – either through on-the-job leadership training, or more orchestrated learning experiences, such as role plays, simulations, adventure training, etc;

·         Reflection on one’s own leadership style and how it works in practice is vital, as is the opportunity to try out the style in a real life setting and assess its impact, adjusting the approach until the right balance is achieved.

 

Perhaps the best form of leadership development program incorporates theory, individualisation, experiential learning, coaching/mentoring, hands-on practice, and reflection and assessment, as part of an integrated program, or offered through separate modules.

 

If management training is also required, it can often be included within, or added on to, a leadership development program.  Management skills are usually more practical, and so can be effectively taught through theory, role modelling and practice, although experiential and reflective learning approaches can also be effective.

 

Whatever leadership development approach is taken, it is most important that participants learn the difference (and synergies) between leadership and management, and how essential good people skills are to great leadership (and, incidentally, to great management).  Peter Drucker expressed it best:

 

"The leaders who work most effectively never say “I”.  And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I”.  They don’t think “I”.  They think “we”; they think “team”.  They understand their job to be to make the team function.  They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit.  This is what creates trust, what enables them to get the job done."

 

  

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By Trevor Neville, Principal, and Kirsten Ferguson (Human Resource Management Consultant, Life and Business Coach), TranZition Professional and Executive Recruitment, Level 3 Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane Qld 4000. Email: trevor@tranzition.com.au  Web: www.tranzition.com.au

 

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