Monday, July 18, 2011

What's the Difference?

In response to some of last week's posts I was asked about my view on the difference between management and leadership.

There are a variety of opinions on the subject, but I will start with an observation: some leaders I have known dislike management. They share a feeling that managing is stale, bogged down in routine, and isn't concerned about the future. In general they feel like management doesn't help change the world.

I contend that what these leaders dislike is poor management. Just as poor leadership can produce bad results, so can poor management. So let's focus on good leadership and good management - how are these related?

Generally speaking, leadership is concerned with envisioning the future, building a team, motivating, developing people, and finding solutions to the problems of the day. When people talk of good management, generally speaking, they are talking about producing results through a team, getting things done, and ensuring resources are used effectively.

When I look at those lists, however, one question jumps out at me: Won't good managers also practice leadership skills? Teams are more effective if they share a common vision, are motivated, are growing as people, and are doing meaningful work.

I contend that the most effective managers also practice leadership. I also believe that effective leaders either practice some management or else bring in other people to ensure that management is taking place (those castles in the air need foundations beneath them!)

If leadership is on one end of a continuum and management on the other, there is a wide area in the middle where the two overlap.

How do you balance leading and managing?

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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