There can be so much grey between the role of a manager and that of a leader. If you can’t simply define what ‘great’ looks like in each, then you can’t hope to be effective at either.
The team at Step Change, the Sydney based design and strategy specialists, describe management and leadership in this way:
- Managing is about Managing Complexity
- Leadership is about Leading Change
They have got it down to one word for each, ‘Complexity and Change’. Below is the context they provide to each:
Management is about coping with complexity. This is essential in large organisations to maintain stability and to scale success. Order and consistency for profitability are the manager’s remit. Managers keep the engine running in the organisation and work to achieve business stability while maintaining the status quo.
Leadership, on the other hand, is about coping with change. In many instances, leaders themselves initiate change if only to push things forward as they race towards a vision where progress waits at the finish line. Leaders affect the changes needed for the business to survive and thrive. They work to achieve and find success in the first place. Leverage is the leader’s remit.
Management and leadership are both needed to maintain balance and progress in the organisation.
Management rules in peacetime; leadership is needed in times of war. Management is about dealing with the familiar better: the role of incremental improvement.
Leadership is about dealing with the new competently: the role of exponential step changes.
Management focuses on targets, budgets, and resource allocation; hence, organising is key with problem-solving being the enabler.
Leadership’s focus is on direction setting and coming up with strategies to affect change; therefore, alignment is key with inspiration being the enabler.
Understanding what motivates both is essential in driving success for both tasks.
I like this interpretation of management and leadership from Step Change
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