Combining Leadership & ManagementMar 09, 2023
When I searched the phrase “results of combining leadership and management” the vast majority of the results I found were articles comparing and contrasting the two. While I make it a point to be as loud as I possibly can in emphasizing that adding manager to a title does not automatically mean any leading is gonna get done! My main concern though after reading through close to a dozen of the articles that came up in that search was that nearly all of them focused almost entirely on only contrasting the two skill sets rather than detailing the powerful results that can be achieved when someone becomes effective in both. Even the articles suggesting that these two different but critical skills could co-exist alluded to how rarely it occurred.
One from the Harvard Business Review opened with this quote made by Abraham Zaleznik in 1977; “Business leaders have much more in common with artists than they do with managers.” Every single one, in some form or fashion, shared a variation of this statement from Inc.com:
“Generally speaking, management is a set of systems and processes designed for organizing, budgeting, staffing, and problem solving to achieve the desired results of an organization. Leadership defines the vision, mission, and what the "win" looks like in the future. It inspires the team to embody the beliefs and behaviors necessary to take the actions needed to achieve those results.”
Thankfully, that same article from Inc.com, which was appropriately titled The Fundamental Differences Between Leadership and Management; Combining Visionary Leadership and Great Management Achieves Winning Results, closed with a section called “The Power of Great Leadership and Management Combined” that shared this:
“When a company has great visionary leadership but poor management capability, the transformation will only get so far. When the opposite is true, the vision will not be powerful, or even worse, will be totally flawed. Or it will never develop in the first place. With great leadership but marginal management, the change effort can make some significant gains but will eventually slow. Where the magic happens is when great leadership intersects with solid management. Change is messy and it's never perfect. It usually takes longer and has a greater cost--hard and soft--than is originally anticipated. But with visionary leaders who have the best interests of the company and its culture in mind, supported by great management throughout the company, winning results are likely to happen.”
Before we move onto how changing the approach we take by earning the genuine influence required to lead authentically while still effectively managing the processes we oversee produces quantifiable results across every area of our organization, I NEED you to understand that this isn’t some pie-in-the-sky idea that only a select few individuals will ever be able to achieve! Just like none of us were born knowing all we do today about running our respective departments or entire businesses, no one came out of the womb as an amazing leader. Both skill sets can be (and need to be) developed intentionally over time. The biggest difference I’ve seen is that most organizations have processes in place that help us grow into effective supervisors and managers. I won’t pretend that developing our leadership skills to mirror those management skills will be easy but I promise it’s not complicated! For what it’s worth though, not effectively dealing with profitability killers like poor communication, low engagement, and high turnover ain’t easy either.
If both options are hard, doesn’t it make sense to pick the hard option that provides the results you really want?