Leadership & Management are not the same thing

Due to my new found time to read and reflect on my daily commute from the CBD to and from my home, some 1 hours travel in a comfy V/Line train, I’ve found I’ve been able to catch up on piles of reading, that in all seriousness, has lapsed for years. Part of this, I’ve read a series of leadership and management books. Always illuminating, the below are some take homes I’ve articulated myself and come to the conclusion too, based on my experience over the years.

Leadership: Offers inspiration, vision, the structure that paves the direction which galvanizes people to follow and participate in the strategic vision.

Management: is the binding force whether activity, personality, measurement or which offers advice, support, guidance, discipline and assessment of quality/output and outcomes, in line with the strategic vision.

Good leaders have:

  • Oratorical Communication Skills, excellent public speakers and confidence in speaking
  • A distinctive (and hopefully aspirational) personal presence. This is a combination of grooming, body stance, dress style.
  • Engagement – the very best leaders engage at a 1 to 1 level with key staff.
  • An outlook of always offering encouragement.
  • Never show negative emotions, contempt, disdain, doubt or anger. The energies that drive these are rechanneled into asking succinct questions to key staff and clients which are based on receiving direct, factual answers and then allowing them to afford insight and draw the strategic goals together.
  • Rewarding – fiercely loyal to those who show loyalty to them and very obviously so, so that other people in the organisation can see the benefits of success and commitment.
  • Consistent – being consistent is more critical and sustainable than having flashes of brilliance or success, as people learn to gravitate towards the measured pace of success and positive gain during the tough times.

Bad leaders are:

  • Distrustful. Those that are distrustful in a public sense – people can sense that they are so – it doesn’t engender much trust to follow someone you know doesn’t trust you. It is very different in terms of people’s expectations that they expect to be distrusted. In the past for myself if people were nervous around me, it was their own standards (mediocre to high) which they were valuing themselves, not anything I had overtly said. Any actual comparison of standards was left in the area of performance and criteria matching for an expectation.
  • Disorganized. Being disorganized as a leader sets the example to all that follow you that that is an acceptable standard of performance and therefore shelter within the standard set. At least give the appearance of being organized. This extends to every aspect of your being at work – behavior, appearance, desk, communications, follow up
  • Inconsistent. Unfortunately the nature of being a leader means you are going to have people taking pot shots at you regardless of how good/bad you are. Being inconsistent only validates their viewpoint with the more positive and accepting types around you who rely on your equinaminous nature to endure the tough times.

Good managers have

  • Patience; a mentoring outlook, a practiced, methodical manner in handling situations, whether mundane or under high stress. Because of this persona, they are inherently stable and staff build up a level of trust in them to discuss things which are outside of their comfort zone.
  • Knowledge; understanding and clarity on what the staff they managing are doing at any point. This is NOT micro management, but rather regularly, scheduled reviews (daily, weekly) of activity and gaps.
  • Ownership; key traits in successful managers I’ve always sought is a sense of responsibility as if the tasks, activities or projects were their own.
  • Honest with their colleagues and themselves. An outstanding manager is one who knows they don’t necessarily have the “big picture” but trust those that do – the good leader.

Bad managers are:

  • Same traits as a bad leader, but in addition:
  • Unethical. This is an interesting one – an unethical manager is one who in the simplest sense, will blame and bury those around them, and entrap them with their role and seniority. At its most sophisticated, they lie, when they can’t be proven wrong nor found out and do so to suit their own selfish needs and career advancement.
  • Amoral. In one sense, this is tougher to deal with than even an unethical manager. At least you can see this and they get a reputation for such and in the unfortunate circumstance you are saddled with a manager like this, you can at least watch your back. Their lack of insight and inherent understanding of what is right begets scenarios which because their wasn’t a clear path forward, from a moral perspective, they chart the course which is a means to an end, irrespective of the morality of the journey. The goal is the only thing that matters, and they cannot see that there is anything wrong with what they ordered/enacted/endorsed to meet this goal.