Leading and Managing

"Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine."— Lance Secretan, Industry Week, October 12, 1998 It's possible that more has been written comparing and contrasting leadership and management than almost any other aspect of organizational behavior and development.  After reading a great deal of it, it's quite possible to come away with less understanding than you had when you started.  I hesitated a bit to add to this ambiguity, and hopefully I won't.

But, it is important to say a bit about it, because so many people focus on the distinctions and want to cleanly separate the two.

This is how I see leadership and management:

  • People must be led.
  • Processes and projects are managed.
  • Leadership is deeply personal and all encompassing.
  • Management is largely procedural and focused on discrete aspects of operating the organization.
  • Leaders connect their organization's management functions to the hearts and minds of the employees.
  • Management is vital to smooth organizational functioning, uniformity, standardization, fairness, policy formulation and implementation, order, consistency, and institutional habits.
  • Done properly, leadership contributions are new and fresh every day, connecting employees to the mission, organization, and each other by energizing and motivating the very hearts of employees in ways that all human beings crave and need.  Done improperly, there is no more harmful force in an organization than lousy leadership.  The best people leave, the wrong people stay, the performance and morale of the organization spirals to the very depths of mediocrity.  Unless the organization is infused with free money (government or not-for profit, for example) it will eventually fail.
  • Done properly, management contributions are quickly absorbed by the work force and taken for granted.  Done improperly, they become institutional dis-satisfiers that negatively affect the entire workforce.  Organizations can limp along with sub standard management, but they will never reach their full potentials.
  • Both leadership and management are vitally necessary and organizations of all sizes can't have one without the other and be successful.
  • Leaders must both lead and manage,
  • Management is an enabling skill set of successful leaders.
  • Leadership is more art than science, although it's not entirely art.  Successful leadership requires genuine character and a deep understanding of the complexities and paradoxes of human behavior and motivations.
  • Management is more science than art.

"Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led."— Ross Perot

Keith Stalder, #35

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