Recently I saw again the line that we, "Manage things and lead people". This has never felt right to me. From my earliest experiences with teams, my teams (and I) liked to be well managed in addition to being well led.
"On reflecting on it, how about this... Leadership is about emotion, management is about action."
When it comes to leadership, words commonly associated with it are things like:
The aim of leadership is to generate the will to commit to completing a task or tasks.
Management is more about action, how people do the tasks set them. It's more about:
🔷 Resources for completion of the task
🔷 Skill sets
🔷 Processes and systems
Both are vital. Great management with no leadership is likely to mean people don't like change or handle it well ('Why do we need to change? Why should we change?'), and as we all know, change is a constant. Conversely great leadership with no management means we all get fired up but that enthusiasm rapidly wanes as the daily frictions of completing the task become a lived reality.
We all have an ability in both. We're usually stronger in one than the other. That's no bad thing at all, because when we bring the right people together in the right way we form a team that is great at both.
There is almost an overwhelming and seemingly never ending flood of literature out there on leadership. Eventually this started to cause some frustration for me as there was lots of stuff about nebulous things like trust and empathy (which are indeed vital), but very little about the practical levers we have available to use to actually generate those things. And for much of the time, these practical levers are in the ‘how’.
They hide in the day to day management of those we lead.
These are powerful tools in the hands of conscious leaders. Have a team member who is brilliant and insightful but reserved and nervous to speak in front of others? Allocate them an item for them to own on the meeting agenda. They then have to speak up in a meeting, you have empowered them with the authority to do so and, as leader, can ensure others give them space and listen to what they say. The perfect conditions perhaps for coaching that person to be more confident in their ability and place on the team.
An agenda can be just as powerful a tool to help you contain domineering people who don’t let others speak up or intimidate them in a way that deters them.
Not getting the information you need to inform effective and timely decisions? You and your team keep getting fast balls as a result? Team getting tired and frustrated at lurching from pillar to post?
Think about setting out the information you need and ensuring a report is generated in a sufficient timeframe to enable you to make the effective and timely decisions your team need.
Reports should not be annoying, pointless bureaucracy (if they are nothing but that, you should probably cease to produce the report – just check no one else uses it first). Well considered and targeted reports have the effect of enabling effective management of the team so that leading it becomes easier because credibility and trust is enhanced.
People will do whatever the policy says they should do. ISO standards, something many organisations use to indicate professionalism, are largely about following the policy of an organisation. So if our policies do not drive positive behaviours we have a problem.
The problem can get worse if leaders say one thing but don’t ensure the policies of the organisation support that. People can find themselves being berated by leaders for not doing what they say because the policy they are audited against tells them to do something different. You can probably imagine what this kind of scenario does for leadership considerations like trust and empathy.
As leaders, we overlook managing our policies at our peril.
More one for senior leaders this one, but a strategy should guide every decision at every level of your business (if yours doesn’t, get in touch). Each part of your organisation should know what their role in delivering the strategy is.
Doing so will help them understand what is required of them and remove the levels of uncertainty and resulting stress that leaders elsewhere in the organisation would otherwise have to deal with. It also ensures that they understand what the organisation is trying to achieve and why – critical for high levels of motivation.
If you feel you’re getting a little more frustrated about all the content on leadership, without that being supported by the management knowledge as to how effective leadership can be achieved, then sign up to our newsletter, follow our page, listen to our Emerge Stronger podcast or simply get in touch. We’ve been on that journey and we’re here to help.