Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why should anyone care about potential differences between management and leadership? It has appeared to me that both leadership and management represent the knowledge and skills necessary to direct behaviors, in order to successfully achieve desired outcomes; where management appropriately applies to situations in which the directors use validated, standardized procedures and leadership appropriately applies to situations in which the directors possess no validated, standardized procedures to follow. However, my understanding in this regard does not primarily result from established theory. Rather, it comes from having served at the operative level in organizations, for most of my adult life. I have observed two specific things that seem to support the existence of differences between leadership and management. In the first place, I have witnessed people in charge who often tried to reinvent the wheel, even when the associated subordinates knew where to go and how to get there (they led when they should have managed): mainly, so that they (the directors) could raise their levels of exposure and their subsequent value to their higher-ups. I have also witnessed people in charge who followed rules and procedures blindly, using the excuses: "we've always done it that way," or "we've never done it like that before," even though the associated subordinates had no clear idea of the destinations or processes to achieve the given, unique outcomes or when it appeared obvious to the most casual observers that the given processes would not result in the desired levels of efficiency or effectiveness of the targeted outcomes (they managed when they should have led), primarily in order to mitigate their (the directors') liabilities, if and when things went wrong. If differences truly exist between leadership and management and if we can identify them, then people can: (a) better understand the unique skills associated with the constructs that support each concept, (b) make better decisions regarding when to apply those skills, and (c) thereby, potentially take efficiency and effectiveness to new heights.

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