Lead AND Manage: Stop Being a 1-Trick Leadership Pony
Tell me if this sounds familiar …
You’ve put your all into leading your team, getting them organized and keeping them focused. You’ve set the tone by coming in early and staying late, driving results and pursuing achievement.
Then at some point you realize you’ve arrived at a crossroads. The things that worked previously with your team don’t work anymore. They don’t respond. You sense they don’t trust you, or believe in you; or … something.
And Your Point Is…?
You probably need to expand the way you influence your team: You must lead AND manage.
The things that worked previously with your team don’t work anymore. They don’t trust you, or believe in you; or … something.
Most of us lean on EITHER 1) management disciplines or 2) Leadership disciplines. Let’s unpack them.
Management is “doing things right.” It prioritizes processes, accuracy, metrics and repeatability. Without management, companies are inefficient and can’t grow or scale. They can’t repeat their successes—and almost always repeat their failures.
Leadership is “doing the right things.” it focuses on things like innovation, being opportunistic, agile and adaptable. Without leadership, organizations become risk-averse and inwardly focused. They don’t drive results, and they become unresponsive to customers and marketplace opportunities.
Without management, companies can’t repeat their successes—and almost always repeat their failures.
We all have a natural bias for (and often against) one discipline over the other. Our default behaviors eventually become predictable and stale. Then when the pressure’s on we double-down on our default discipline. We over-rely on its strengths and its weaknesses show up as glaring gaps in our leadership competency.
Our team feels either the chaos that comes from over-leading or the irrelevance that comes from over-managing. They get demotivated and disengage, eventually losing trust in us. Consciously or unconsciously, they choose not to follow us.
Over-relying on your leadership or management makes you a one-trick pony. You can’t be effective, no matter how capable, intelligent, extroverted, correct or successful you are.
Without leadership, organizations don’t drive results and they become unresponsive to customers and marketplace opportunities.
The Big Picture
Neither discipline is right or wrong, although leadership is often promoted as being sexier. And neither is preferred, though typically it’s best to lead first and follow with management.
Managing and leading are not mutually exclusive, they are necessarily complementary. Meaning, you must lead AND manage if you want to be effective.
Your Next Step
Identifying your default tendencies is pretty simple and straightforward. Simply observe yourself and take note of what drives you, or have someone you trust assess you. The challenge comes in deliberately practicing them.
Managing and leading are not mutually exclusive, they are necessarily complementary.
Here’s a longer article on this topic at Medium.com.
Need some practical help on this?
Check out John Kotter’s classic On What Leaders Really Do. It defined the issue for me, and offers in-depth insight on this issue.