[Advice] The Difference Between Management and Leadership

Managing is a process—similar to conflict—of implementing, developing, and encouraging employees to accomplish predetermined goals. Much of managing in the modern world represents the fully realized theories of Frederick Winslow Taylor, and his ideas about productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Leadership is a relationship—similar to engagement, resolution, and communication around conflict—between followers in an organization and their leaders. Much of leadership in modern organizations rests on the concepts of authority, transaction, charisma, or some other mystical, in-borne trait. Modern leadership also doesn’t examine the role of followers in an organization.

Management is not leadership. A competent manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of the overall work team and is diligent in learning strategies and techniques to take that team to the next level in production, efficiency, and effectiveness. And if some of the people following can’t get on board, there is always the option to fire people.

Leadership is not management. A competent leader strives to go beyond merely knowing the relative strengths and weaknesses of their overall work team, and instead seeks to discover—and grow—relationships between followers, as well as between the leaders and the followers. Leadership requires doing things that don’t scale (emotional labor), engaging with conflict (leaving a comfort zone), and initiating changes and innovation (not being afraid of failure).

Leadership requires grit and grows resiliency. It also demands that the person doing the leading avoid seeking assurance and reassurance from followers; but, instead that they be guided by their own internal principles and be able to articulate those to followers. Managing requires keen observation, willingness to follow direction, and the ability to articulate those observations and directions up and down a hierarchical chain.

Too often, too many organizations seek to impose leadership on people who should be managers. Employees look for leadership from people who have attained status, but not skills. And supervisors, and managers, become frustrated, overwhelmed, disheartened, and burnt-out, because they are asked that their reach exceed their grasp, without being asked if there capable of reaching that far anyway.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
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