24 November, 2015

Why Managing is not Leading

Why Managing is not Leading

Photo Credit: David Sanabria

Just because someone is an effective manager, does not mean that they are a good or effective leader. Whilst these two words are interchanged readily within a management sphere there is a distinct difference between the two functional aspects of these roles.

I love to read about leadership and develop my own leadership skills. I also love developing other leaders. With my Military Leadership training it is something that I believe is essential for organisational success. Often though, people placed into leadership positions have not had the training, mentorship or experience required to bring about that organisational excellence.

The difference between managing and leading

A manager is someone who is concerned with the day-to-day operations of the organisation and makes the organisation work. An effective manager will be good representing the face of the organisation to the general public on a daily basis and will be able to manage the staffing and operational aspects. They will make the organisation run smoothly.

Leadership is about the organisation's direction, strategy and future planning requirements. An effective leader is someone who is future orientated and asks the questions of where are we going and why are we doing what we are doing now and how will that affect us in the future. The answers to these questions will drive a leader to effect the change required so the organisation remains relevant in the market.

Good managers like to have control of the environment they work in; they like to have routines and are effective in solving issues. They like to work with people in a controlled manner and regulate the way in which the organisation goes about its business.

Leaders on the other hand like to question the routines and environment and seek out new opportunities. They often have more of an appetite for risk and cause turbulence with those round them. This turbulence is a necessary part of their role as leaders as it helps to enable change and keep the organisation relevant.

So do I need a Manager or a Leader?

The person with a narrow vision sees a narrow horizon. The person with a wide vision sees a wide horizon. Anon.

I think that ideally you need both in order for the organisation to be effective in the long term. But for small business and not-for-profits it may not be possible to have more than one employee in this role. In smaller organisations there is often a requirement for the Executive Officer to carry out both functions and have the ability to switch between the two roles dependant on the situation.

Larger organisations will be more fortunate to have the ability to employ an inspirational leader to oversee the organisation and have effective managers working to the CEO. Leadership of an organisation is not something that can be delegated, this must be held by the senior paid employee.

Not-for-profit organisations need strong leadership in their CEO. This will ensure that the organisation’s mission, values and intent are upheld, uniting volunteers, grant providers, board members and other stakeholders. Without this leadership then the organisation will drift without a unity of purpose, membership and financial resources will decline and the organisation will be at risk of failure.

The same is true for small business, where without the leadership providing strategic direction, the business will fail to remain aware of the market and become irrelevant in the ever-changing business environment.

There are many examples where poor leadership has bought down an organisation and where exemplary leadership has overcome adversity. If you have a story to share about leadership, please feel free to share below.

© 2019 Paul Mead