adership 101

Let’s start at the very start: differentiating between management and leadership. Leadership is often viewed as the influencing and motivating of people to embrace the organisation’s vision and work to achieve the goals. Management is often viewed as the administration of that work.

In my early days of learning about leadership I recall learning the four functions of management and managers: planning, organising, controlling and leading. I hold this close to my beliefs and how I support middle managers. It’s also why I cringe when seeing articles, posts and memes that label leaders as the best and managers as bad.

Manager is a title and leadership is what they do.

When you see comparisons between leaders and managers one of the fundamental comparisons is:

  • Leaders set the vision
  • Managers follow the vision

In working with many different organisations over the last 15+ years, senior executives, presidents, CEOs, business owners will have or be responsible for the vision. It’s their role to articulate the vision and inspire and motivate employees – their management team – to realising the vision.

Managers don’t simply follow the vision. Any organisation that wants success, will listen to their managers to hear what’s really going on at operational levels in order to inform the vision, to be open to innovation and opportunities, to be ready to handle threats. Managers will speak up about the vision and how it’s being realised and what can be improved.

According to a Ving article, 71% of employees believe their leaders don’t spend enough time communicating about goals and plans.

Managers have more direct access to employees and as such are in a most powerful position to inspire and empower employees to understand, connect with and work productively to achieve the vision.

My dear friend who is in middle management once shared that her boss came to her and in a less than excited tone said, “Here’s the new strategic plan, have a read, and do your thing to inspire the troops, you know, do the ‘rah-rah’ thing with them.” My friend felt flat and disappointed. Her boss hadn’t inspired her at all; there was nothing to empower or motivate her. Left deflated, my friend had to dig deep and use her own self-leadership to boost herself up and then be in a better frame of mind to then engage her team.

My friend’s boss communicated but it was definitely the least she could do; didn’t spend enough time discussing the plan or any engagement strategy.

Managers are in such an influential position to help operational staff, not exactly follow the vision, but make it come alive.

A suggested more accurate comparison could be:

Leaders set the vision and need to also inspire and drive and help their managers realise the vision.

Managers can influence the vision, and need to also inspire and drive and help their reports realise the vision.

Let me know what you think of this comparison?