Management and leadership are not always the same thing but in today’s society and business environments, they should be. In the military, service member are subjected to rigorous mental and practical leadership techniques in their training from day one. As a result, the respect of peers and effectiveness of authority come to depend heavily on ones true leadership abilities. Anyone can give orders but to truly and effectively lead in this environment requires skill because everyone knows what to look for. Environments like this breed strong leadership skill in high quantity.
In the corporate world, often we find that this is not the case. For some reason, we have been less successful in promoting true leadership skills among business leaders. While there are exceptions to every rule, the norm in civilian leadership scenarios leaves a lot to be desired.
This can be seen in the unfortunate way that leadership and management have endured a separation so to speak. Many managers focus on tasks and workload goals alone rather than the people themselves. Managers are managing tasks instead of leading people. While we understand that this is not an optimal scenario, often the stress and pressure from above causes managers to misplace their focus. In short, managers need to be leaders first and administrators second. Anyone can plan and organize tasks but it takes strong leadership skill to promote efficiency and cohesion in a team.
When we do not take steps to ensure that management and leadership are deeply intertwined, the result is two different groups with different skill sets and focus. In essence, the manager will organize and oversee task-oriented operations while the leaders will take on the role of motivating and inspiring people.
Managers are often replaceable figureheads with cookie cutter skills whereas leaders are valuable, original innovators who are in high demand. Managers are reactionary and work to maintain current efforts and progress where leaders foster proactive people develop new direction and set large scope goals. The manager studies timelines and workloads. The leader leads people. Members of management use control tactics such as stress to accomplish tasks and real leaders would rather develop trust and create relationships that motivate and naturally produce positive results. Managers follow paths. Leaders make new paths.
In today’s workforce, all of these actions are necessary. This is why managers need to become the leaders. To effectively operate in a management capacity, one will need all of the above skills integrated into their approach.
The separation may stem from an earlier primarily industrial society where a large bulk of the driving workforce was comprised by low skilled or physically oriented work. In those situations, managers could effectively operate without vision or with less actual leadership skill. Today’s society is different. In the information age, people are more aware of their roles, skills and value to a company. They demand leadership. A much larger portion of the workforce is highly skilled, intelligent and well aware of their benefit to an organization. He or she has many more options. Without effective communication, motivation and respect, today’s workers are in large part more difficult to lead. It is not uncommon for a skilled employee to understand his role and functions with much more depth than his manager who must focus on a bigger picture. Micromanagement and simple control would be far less effective because the manager does not understand the employees work as well as the employee does. Now the manager must rely on the skills of others, which he himself does not possess. A mutual respect and solid relationship is needed to promote efficiency and foster positive results.
Take the time and make the effort to combine management with strong leadership and your organization will have a much better chance at success. Only when our managers become strong leaders will we go the extra mile and make the goals of the organization our own. The difference between a forced workforce doing what they have to do and a motivated workforce that does what they can do is staggering.
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