In the last decade or so, business and management academics, writers, "gurus" and executives alike have all touted the importance of leadership.
They've written about it. They've spoken about it. They've conducted MBA courses on it. They've practiced it.
And they've certainly worshipped it.
And so they should. Leadership is critical, right? It's what gives companies direction -- what drives them onward and upward to success.
Without leadership a company would be all dressed up with nowhere to go.
And please don't confuse it with management. Leadership captivates us with the why and what; management bores us with the how, who, when and where.
Leaders are the visionaries. The thinkers. Those exceptional "big picture" people who inspire us to embrace their vision for the future.
Managers... well they're the people who can't lead. Managers lack big picture vision; they too mired in the details -- the small picture. And they're too busy organizing than orchestrating.
Only it's the managers who actually get us where we want to go. After all, what good is it having a road toward the future without an operational car to get us there?
It seems to me that in all this glorification of leaders and leadership... managers and management have been unjustly maligned... To the point where "management" is equated with being small-minded, reactive, controlling, even stifling.
As a result, while up-and-coming professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and small business owners, focus on developing leadership skills... they neglect to develop management skills. The very skills that get things done.
What skills are these?
Well, in my opinion, management is basically about allocating resources to achieve a goal. Great managers do a little more than that, but the manager's role is essentially to allocate resources -- whether people, money, tools, information, or any other resource -- and match those resources to tasks.
So while leadership may be responsible for determining what the goal is, management is crucial to achieving it.
Based on that, management is just as important to achieving a goal as leadership wouldn't you say?
And typically, for every leader with a compelling vision, a business needs a certain number of managers to organize the work and the workers, in order to achieve that vision. (It also needs an even greater number of workers but that's the subject of another article!).
So... if the average business needs more managers than leaders... why doesn't the business "intelligentsia" give equal -- if not greater emphasis -- to the development of management skills than to leadership skills?
Possibly because too much emphasis has been given to management than to leadership in the past... or possibly because having a big vision and inspiring people is so much sexier than the nitty-gritty of preparing budgets, hiring people, delegating tasks, monitoring performance, choosing vendors, and the "mundane" tasks of management.
Or perhaps the tasks of a manager are just plain obvious...
So obvious that many executives, professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners find themselves in management positions... where they're full of vision and grand plans... but can't get the people they manage to actually do the things necessary to accomplish that plan and those grand plans!
We need more managers -- or should I say people with management skills -- not more leaders. Big dreams abound... the capabilities to access and allocate resources to achieve those big dreams are in far too short supply.
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Anna Johnson is the author of the How To Manage People System, including her book, How To Manage People (Even If You're A Control Freak!). Get Anna's FREE 12-page report How To Be An Outstanding Manager - The 8 Vital Keys To Managing People Effectively
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