Despite popular opinion leadership and management are not the same thing.
Management is the responsibility for the survival of an organization.
It's like our instinctual avoidance of potential dangers like fire, snakes, and spiders and our attraction to food, shelter, and sex.
Good management takes care of the fundamentals that ensure the survival of the organization, like generating revenues, reducing costs, and increasing surpluses (known as profits in the business realm.)
Leadership is the ability to meet the needs of those who make up the organization, those who depend on the organization, and other organizations.
This is like our attraction to good stories, music and fine cuisine.
These kinds of desires do not just meet the fundamental needs they fulfill higher needs, as well.
When we align the meeting of both our lower survival needs with higher aesthetic and social needs, then we have done more than manage our survival, we have attained thrival.
Art of Leadership
The art of leadership in organizations is about skillfully meeting the variety of needs within and without the organization into a seamless, graceful flow.
A true leader knows what the management issues are but also has a sense that there are ways to accomplish those basic survival tasks in more inspired ways.
They look for the opportunities to achieve an artful balance between their aesthetic values and the organizational imperatives that constrain their expression.
Leadership is an art form, whereas management is merely a technical discipline.
Leaders can act from any position in an organization, although the opportunities to act and limits of their effectiveness may be significantly determined by the nature of their position within the power structure.
Managers can usually only act within the constraints of their position, although a manager with acute leadership skills may be able to transcend the limits of their managerial authority.
Another way to think about it is that leaders are primarily concerned with the organization's attitude in the world, how it is oriented in relation to both the people that make it up an the community of organizations that it deals with.
On the other hand the manager is primarily concerned with the state of the organization and whether it will survive.
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber provide a good model that provides guidance on balancing leadership and management in organizations.
The E-Myth model posits the need for three fundamental roles that need to be filled in any successful organization.
The manager, the entrepreneur, and the technician.
- The manager is primarily concerned with the here and now, making sure things are being accounted for properly and customers are being served effectively.
- The technician is primarily concerned with doing the best work that can be done, which tends to focus on the past as a benchmark.
- The entrepreneur is concerned with the future, how to grow the business, and contributing to the wider world.
These roles all have negative sides when they lose touch with each other.
The technician will endlessly perfect the system if the manager doesn't help him stay focused on the fact that they have ever more customers and the entrepreneur doesn't keep creating new challenges.
The entrepreneur will throw resources at dreams if the manager doesn't help him stay focused on the fact that the resources are limited and the technician keeps him connected to the realities of their core business.
The manager will obsess on accounting for every little detail if the entrepreneur doesn't keep him stretching into new opportunities and the technician doesn't help maintain the focus on getting real work done.
While the E-Myth was developed for businesses it is applicable to any organization.
The key is balance.
Without balancing the different needs that both individuals and organization's have and the different roles that they both play, then problems are inevitable.
Throughout this site you can learn more about how to apply leadership in education.