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KNOW WHEN TO LEAD AND WHEN TO MANAGE


Have you ever had that moment when you hear something and you know that it will fundamentally change your life forever? This happened to me when I attended a workshop by Liz Wiseman, co-author of the book Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. The line that rocked my world was “The best leaders don’t give the best answers, they ask the best questions”. In that moment I knew I needed to let go of my own ego and sense of self-importance and rather focus on empowering others to be the best version of themselves. I aimed to transition from BOSS to LEADER but it also lead me to another question. How does MANAGEMENT fit in?

I needed to understand the difference and this is what I came up with. Leadership determines WHY people work and how much of themselves they give. It is about aligning hearts and minds to a shared vision and mission. Leadership inspires work. Management determines what gets done by whom and by when. Management organises resources and efforts to achieve defined goals efficiently. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Leadership Leadership begins with understanding what motivates people. A good leader is a genius maker and brings out the intelligence in others. Research is showing that what motivates good knowledge workers are things like autonomy mastery and purpose. Leaders build collective viral intelligence culturally in organisations. They work on the assumption that people are smart and will figure it out. A multiplying leader can result in over 2 times the output potential compared to a diminished employee that is probably only achieving 40%. Leadership facilitates collective vision and thereby sets the long-term direction the team’s hearts and minds are set on. In so doing leaders align, motivate and inspire people.

Management Management is all about coordinating and aligning efforts of teams of people to achieve specific goals within a specific constraint. Managers plan and budget, organise stuff, devise systems and monitoring control, keeping the engine running smoothly through performance management and making good decisions through sound processes. Management garner the support and confidence of staff and investors by being organized having plans, systems and processes in place.

I propose that during a crisis, organisations need both leaders and managers much as a glove needs a hand. It is equally as important to have people follow a leader who has the clarity of vision through a crisis as it is for a team to be managed on executing plans for specific goals at the same time. So who is more important? There’s no doubt that at times in an organisation’s story, one may be more important than the other due to the environment or culture but it is during an economic pandemic of the scale we are experiencing now where it is essential that both roles exists prominently and visibly for all to see.


- Robin Olivier (ActionCURVE NZ)

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