Leadership Vs. Management– Distinction is Absurd, Superficial: Shift Emphasis to– Creating, Building, Teaming, Doing…

Leadership Vs. Management; kill the word ‘manager’… kick it, shoot it, just be done with it. One of the oldest running myths in the business world is that leaders and managers are somehow different, but in fact– leaders are managers, and managers are leaders…

According to Ronald E. Riggio; leadership and management are fundamentally different, well sort of… while we may be able to divide tasks into those that require ‘management’ (i.e., decision-making, record keeping…) and the more abstract aspects of ‘leadership’ (i.e., creating vision, inspiring followers…) the truth is that anyone who supervises others needs to be both manager and leader, to be effective...

According to Peter Drucker; the excesses of modern corporations are directly related to bloated concept of leadership… businesses have more than enough leaders; what they really need are more competent managers who can do the hard work of– decision-making, planning, coaching… The typical business leader is like the leader of a marching band– they wave a stick while other people do all the work…

According to Greg Schinkel; have we shifted reasoning too far towards developing leaders instead of developing effective managers? Differentiating management and leadership typically involves labeling managers as perpetuating status quo, while leaders blaze new trails and inspire employees to follow them towards grand vision. In reality, we need solid management and supervisory skills to actually get work done and deliver value to customers and results to the bottom line…

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It was once believed that leaders were ‘born not made’, this has given way to a widespread assumption that leadership is something that can be learned and therefore taught… Since the 1970s an industry has grown up to meet that demand, one that is valued at $50 billion by Forbes. There are nearly 400 accredited business schools in U.S. alone and many more around the world, teaching a curriculum driven by thousands of leadership experts who make a very decent living writing, speaking, teaching the fundamentals of this relatively new topic…

According to Henry Mintzberg; we have an obsession with leadership, by focusing on a single person– leadership becomes part of the syndrome of individuality– that is undermining many organizations… and, by the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else… In business, there is surprisingly little evidence that directly links leaders to performance of many organizations.

According to James Meindl; research found that the actions of many leaders, CEOs, accounted for just 15% of the variation in a company’s performance… According to Krystyn Tully; leadership is important, for sure; but, so is management… If you’re trying to do something important, then the idea of leadership is a distraction: It’s irrelevant… Just put your head down and do the best you can… History can decide if you were a true leader, manager, or whatever… you’ve got more important things to think about…

In the article Leadership vs. Management: Dangerous Distinction? by Bob Sutton writes: Thousands of books are written on leadership and management– and there are several academic journals devoted entirely to the subject… In the process of reviewing much of the literature– I’ve been bumping into an old and popular distinction that has always bugged me, i.e.; ‘leading vs. managing’…

According to Warren Bennis; there is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important: To ‘manage’ means– to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct… Whereas, ‘leading’ is influencing, guiding in a direction, actions, opinions… The distinction is crucial... Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing… Also, as I continue to re-read the leadership literature, it suggest that some leaders see their job as just coming up with big, vague ideas, and then treat the details of implementation as mere management work for other workers to do…

I am all for grand visions, strategies… but, the people (leaders) who seem to have the most success are those that have a deep understanding of the details required to make them work– or if they don’t, they have wisdom to surround themselves with people (managers) who can offset their weaknesses, and who have the courage to argue with them when there is no clear path between their dreams and reality…

I am not rejecting the distinction between leadership and management, but the best leaders do something that might be most properly called– a mixture of leadership and management, or at least lead in a way that constantly takes into account importance of management… Some of the worst senior executives use distinctions between leadership and management as an excuse to avoid learning-knowing details so they can more clearly understand– the risk, rewards… and select the right strategies… According to Bennis; to do the right thing, a leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right…

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In the article Leadership is Overrated by wally writes: The great cry of management literature for the last twenty years has been: We must have more leaders! We must have more leaders! It’s nonsense… Pick up the dictionary and look up ‘leader’…  It will probably be something like this; leader: one who leads. .. Note, that we are talking about a leader as being defined by what they do… The fact is anyone who is responsible for performance of a group is a leader, because people follow the leader’s example; that’s what leaders do, they set the example, the direction… If people follow you, then you’re a leader…

You can lead well or you can lead poorly, but you’re leading and that’s about defining, implementing the group’s– purpose, direction, culture… When you’re making those kinds of decisions, when you’re setting the example which defines culture, or when you’re talking to people about– why and what they do is important… then you’re doing leadership work, and you are a leader… Whereas when you are managing, which involves setting, implement priorities… that isn’t any more or any less noble than leadership work… Both must be done and done well… So, don’t be misled by the jargon and hype; If you are responsible for a– company, group, team… then– you are doing leadership, you are doing management, you are doing supervision…

In the article Underrated Managers, Overrated Leaders by Harvey Schachter writes: In many organizations ‘leadership’ is considered the high-level, which is distinct and far more important than ‘management’… According to Henry Mintzberg; leaders who separate leadership from management are a danger to the organization… Too many leaders are disconnected from what is going on in organizations.

He points to the late Steve Jobs, celebrated as a leader and visionary, who changed the world with his innovations… Mr. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., was hailed as the ultimate leader. And, his lack of people skills has been viewed as evidence he was a terrible manager. His success seems to prove the point that strong leadership trumps management: If you’re a great leader, you can be a crappy manager and still succeed…

But Prof. Mintzberg has a different view: Steve Jobs was truly extraordinary. I am not sure that you would call him a leader, other than perhaps in a tech sense… He was not a natural leader of  people. That happened through his intricate knowledge, management of the product of the organization… Also, according to Prof. Mintzberg; Jack Welch, who has been called the best executive of the past century, but he didn’t leave any legacy other than a better-managed corporation than the one he inherited when he took the helm at G. E.

There are no special products that he developed, no new industries or even segments of industries he created. He was a manager– highly gifted one– and because of that he was very successful... So, why are so many executives (leaders) disconnected with their organization? It’s because they bought into the going notion they would rather be leader than manager, thus they need not know– any of the nuts and bolts… but just provide vision…

In the article Manager as Leader by mike writes: The false dichotomy between leaders and managers stems from the absurd notion that organizations need ‘leaders’ at the top, and staff of ‘managers’ at all other levels below them– it’s a modern form of Plato’s class distinction between ‘kings/philosophers’ (leaders), ‘guardians’ (managers), and ‘workers/ slaves’… It’s early form of Taylorism… According to J. Adair; leadership vs. management is one of those topics that re-appears over and over again. I have fallen victim to many long discussions where both parties were so assured of their correctness they just keep repeating clichés, such as– ‘leaders’ lead people, ‘managers’ manage tasks… there is a difference; but, difference is not all that great because– managers are leaders, just as leaders are managers…

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We must all stop looking, waiting, anticipating… for the emergence of better leaders and, instead, take responsibility for the quality of our own organizations! It’s common practice, no matter at what level people are in the organization (i.e., employee, supervisor, manager, VP…); they all chant the same mantra; if only we had better leadership we would not be in position we are today! Variations on this theme include; When upper management get their act together; I’ll be able to do my job correctly!

Another favorite; It’s got to start from the top! Surely, every organization needs a person who will remind them of– what the organization is trying to achieve, and why it’s important… but, leadership must come from all levels within an organization… and, not just from one person designated as the ‘leader’. According to Colleen Sharen; importance of leadership is vastly over-rated, leaders are not the silver bullet solution for most problems, issues…

According to Henry Mintzberg; emphasis on leadership has led to emphasis on style over substance, and ‘leader’ over ‘follower’… By the excessive promotion of leadership we, in fact, demote everyone else. We create clusters of followers who must be driven to perform, instead of leveraging the natural propensity of people to cooperate, collaborate… in groups…

However, by all indications general public, businesses, academics… are convinced we need leadership… Maybe because we need to believe that someone knows what to do in these crazy, complex, confusing times… Perhaps we need to jettison the platonic ideal of the one perfect leader… According to Mintzberg; suggests that there are few effective managers, and maybe we need to ditch the idea of– leaders, managers, followers... What could be more natural than to see organizations not as mystical hierarchies of authority, but as communities of engagement, where every member is respected and so returns that respect…

We’re told how important it is to be a leader. Every college in U.S. claims to be ‘creating tomorrow’s leaders’… We’re told to ‘develop our leadership skills’ if we want a good job or to get ahead in life… Leaders are important, we’re told… but, too many leaders and not enough followers is a problem.

Nothing gets done if everyone is in charge… Leaders without followers are useless… When Henry Mintzberg was asked; What type of leadership would you recommend for the 21st century? he answered without delay: Less leadership and more people who actually do stuff…