Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The myth on Management vs Leadership

I believe that the success of a country, an organization, a family, a community or any group of people is highly depending on leadership. I have a simple philosophy - Good leaders can turn a mediocre person to a superstar, bad leaders can turn a superstar to a nobody. Leadership is very important, that it can affects the whole group or members, even the whole world.

Often people said that we don't want to create more managers, but we want to create more leaders. (in fact, one of my 'manager' said this). This statement is totally misleading. Why? Because leadership and management is two different things.

In his article John Kotter mentioned that there are 3 mistakes on how people view leadership and management:

Mistake #1: People use the terms "management" and "leadership" interchangeably. This shows that they don't see the crucial difference between the two and the vital functions that each role plays.

Mistake #2: People use the term "leadership" to refer to the people at the very top of hierarchies. They then call the people in the layers below them in the organization "management." And then all the rest are workers, specialists, and individual contributors. This is also a mistake and very misleading.

Mistake #3: People often think of "leadership" in terms of personality characteristics, usually as something they call charisma. Since few people have great charisma, this leads logically to the conclusion that few people can provide leadership, which gets us into increasing trouble.


So, what is actually management?
Management suppose to be the person who looks at the process - which by managing the process, it will create a desirable output. For example, if we hire a bank manager, he suppose to ensure that the banks operate the way it is. The budgetting, the problem solving,  the human capital, the cashflow and so-on. In other words, without management, a company cannot operate. A process can't be running by itself. Because of that we need people to manage it; a manager to manage it.

What is leadership?
Leadership is a role of influence. Leaders will look for new opportunities and exploit the opportunities. Leaders come out with a vision, a strategy in achieving that vision and influence people to work on that vision. Leaders influence change in an environment, move things and pushing people to work on a goal to accomplish. In other words, leadership is about behaviour. And it exist in any part of the organization. We might see people from the low level of an organization, but he is able to influence the people surround him. People listen to him, follow him and support him; while he might not have high position in the organization. That is why Robin Sharma keep on saying that "you don't need a title to be a leader".

What is the impact of Management vs Leadership?
To start a company, we need a good leader - to explore opportunities, to grow the business, to influence people especially stakeholders and customers. If the company has establish, the system is stable, managers should be able to sustain and keep day-to-day operation. Managers will 'ensure' things done as according to the system and compliance with all the standards. When we need to grow the company, to do transformation, we need a good leader to do so.

Which one is important?
In my opinion, in this fast-moving world, leadership is essential because of the tough competition and demand. However, we still need to have managers in order to take care of the operation. As I mentioned in my opening sentence, the key success of an organization is highly depends on the leadership attributes. At the end of the day, we will remember the leaders but not many will remember the managers.

Let us ask ourselves:
How many leaders can you name?
How many managers (except for the one that you work for) can you name?
Which skill should you consider to develop?