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The Difference Between Leadership & Management

Today I read a great blog by John Kotter on the differences between management & leadership. Since most of you are busy people I’ll sum it up here:

Managing is a set of known processes like budgeting and planning that helps you produce the services you’ve promised. Leadership is entirely different. Leadership is about taking an organization into the future, empowering others and producing useful change. Kotter concludes:

There are very, very few organizations today that have sufficient leadership. Until we face this issue, understanding exactly what the problem is, we’re never going to solve it. Unless we recognize that we’re not talking about management when we speak of leadership, all we will try to do when we do need more leadership is work harder to manage. At a certain point, we end up with over-managed and under-led organizations, which are increasingly vulnerable in a fast-moving world.

So how do you know if you are leading or managing? The question to ask is – are you more concerned with the issues you currently have or the place you want to take your organization or team?

When we over-manage and under-lead, we simply have a factory. However, when we lead into the future & empower others to do the same, we create a culture where people work together with a “we’re great” mentality rather than an “I am great” mentality. Living in an “I am great” culture looks like lots of competition & secrecy. This happens when organizations lack vision (or haven’t communicated the one they have). But in cultures where the vision is great, people have to work together or else the urgency of the vision won’t find it’s fulfillment.

Here’s a tool from Dave Logan, author of Tribal Leadership. If you find yourself in an “I am great” culture, your organization will look a lot like a spider – all legs of communication & power will lead back to one person. But if you want to lead into a “we’re great” culture, employ the triad. These triads (groups of 3 people) include others in on the knowledge and power. The triad encourages sharing, communication & teamwork.

Managers make sure the work gets done. Leaders empower others to lead so that cultures change and visions get accomplished.

So my message for you today is: Include others in on what you are doing. Share what you know. The result will be people who have been empowered to carry out that important vision that’s in your heart.

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