I realized after my post yesterday that I had more to write about leaders and managers. My point in all of this is the press and the American public tend to praise "leaders" and ignore or put down managers. Both are crucial, yet almost all we read about are the Enron types or the Jack Welch types. Do we really need another Jack Welch book?
Anyway, I thought I would add to my differences list from yesterday.
1. Leaders worry about WHAT should be done, managers worry about HOW it should be done. Leaders often don't understand what it takes to actually accomplish something. In many cases this is good, since they overcome what had been perceived to be roadblocks. Managers are usually the people who figure out how to accomplish something once the direction is set. A leader without effective managers is constantly pointing to the future but never getting anywhere.
2. Leadership is situational while management is a core discipline. There is no one effective leadership "style" but all good managers work to some common core principles. It's been suggested that leadership is innate, something we are born with, yet there are many successful leaders with very different styles. Compare George Bush and Bill Clinton, or Eisenhower or Patton. Many different styles of leadership can be successful given the circumstances. Look to Krispy Kreme. The new CEO there is a "turn around specialist". I think leadership is demonstrated differently in different situations and contexts. Managers, however, have common tools and goals. A good manager defines the work for his team, ensures everyone is aware of the goals and expectations, builds project plans to help people manage the work, and constantly seeks to provide the help and support the team needs to be successful.
3. Leaders are the bull horns but managers are the translators. Leaders talk a lot, to customers, to shareholders, to partners and to the financial community. Most leaders of businesses today have defined their roles as Mr or Mrs Outside - talking to the press and building the visibility of the business. Managers hear and understand what the leaders are saying and try to translate that into actions for their teams. Managers attempt to parse the instructions and goals, breaking down the larger vision into actions that people can actually begin to do.
In my mind, leaders and managers in an organization are important, but I can run a business with three or four competent managers and no real "leader", but I certainly can't run a business with several "leaders" and no managers. After the downsizing of the eighties and nineties, we've eliminated a significant portion of mid-management. The attention we pay to the CEO has escalated while the pay scale has gone through the roof. Yet quietly and efficiently, the folks who get stuff done everyday are still not given the credit or attention they deserve, and the pay has not increased much at the manager level - at least not anywhere near the way we compensate CEOs or other well-publicized leaders.
OK - off my soapbox and back to more productivity and innovation focused posts in the near future. Just had to get that off my chest.