Management AND Leadership
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
― Peter F. Drucker, Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society
“It has been fashionable to distinguish leaders from managers…Frankly, I don’t understand what this distinction means in the everyday life of organizations. Sure, we can separate leading and managing conceptually. But can we separate them in practice? Or, more to the point, should we even try?”
I am strong advocate of the concept of Managerial Leadership. It is a concept that was introduced to me based on the work of Elliot Jaques and Ian Macdonald. In my view it completely kills the notion that management and leadership should be separated in practice.
The nonsense debate of “are you a manager, or are you a leader” that pops its head up every so often is not helping as it usually hails the leader as some saint like individual with an awe inspiring vision of a future happy place at the end of a rainbow and the manager as some dreadful task master that just commands people around requiring them to follow the rulebook.
Yes they are two different concepts so Drucker might be correct in his view, however, Mintzberg’s point is more important as all managerial roles carry direct leadership accountability with regard to subordinates. A former colleague of mine Rod Barnett put it well when he in a recent LinkedIn discussion about management vs. leadership succinctly said – people deserve better.
I think Rod is absolutely correct – people do deserve better and no wonder there is a growing movement to fundamentally transform organisations and the way they are managed.
Having said that, taking a systems view of the situation – I do wonder how much of the prevailing way of managing is due to pressures from speculative shareholders demanding increased share prices quarter after quarter. Since most of us are investors at least through superannuation, are we partly to blame?
The continual growth paradigm is in my view partly to “blame” for this situation.
Especially since that view drives boards and Chief Executives to make short-term initiatives the priority, often at the cost of long-term sustainability.
I am not pursing some crazy left wing tree hugging agenda here, nothing wrong investing in a company and getting a fair return on the investment through dividends or other mechanisms. What I do question is the overall societal benefits of short-term speculation since it does not add direct value to companies and seems to drive all the wrong behaviours.
I am big fan of Dr Deming’s work so I can only agree. What I have found though is that some help might be useful to put his ideas into practice and becoming a good leader. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) comprises four parts:
- Appreciation of a system
- Knowledge of variation
- Theory of knowledge
- Knowledge of psychology
This leadership framework will help translate these four parts (amongst other things). More importantly this framework does not ask if you are a manager or leader? It asks: You are a Manager, will you be a good or bad leader?
As a side note to SoPK it is worth nothing that understanding variation is of no use when dealing with issues that are in the complex domain, but we will get to that in a later post.
In my next post I will discuss a general-purpose definition of managerial roles and how they add value in a managerial accountability structure.