Monday, March 24, 2008

Managers and Leaders - Are They Different?

There is a classic article from Harvard Business Review by Abraham Zaleznik in 1977 that addresses Leaders vs. Managers.

From the Best of HBR:

"The difference between managers and leaders, he wrote, lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in the psyches, of chaos and order. Managers embrace process, seek stability and control, and instinctively try to resolve problems quickly - sometimes before they fully understand a problem's significance. Leaders, in contrast, tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are willing to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully in this way, Zalenznik argued, business leaders have much more in common with artists, scientists and other creative thinkers than they do with managers. Organizations need both managers and leaders to succeed, but developing both requires a reduced focus on logic and strategic exercises in favour of an environment where creativity and imagination are permitted to flourish."

I love the notion that leaders are highly creative. I have always tolerated a high degree of uncertainty and chaos. I make decisions routinely with imperfect data. Although I do not consider myself to be artistically creative, I pride myself on my creativity which is the heart of entrepreneurship.

No article on leadership would be complete without the concept of mystical brilliance that allows only great people to be leaders etc. It quickly brings the reader down to earth by saying this view "contrasts sharply with the mundane, practical and important conception that that leadership is really managing work that other people do."

"Managerial goals arise out of neccessities rather than desires".

I found the article to be particularly "freeing" for me since I have to work hard at some of the "management" type things. I know in order to be good, I need to develop both. I do believe we all have some Manager and some Leader in us (and niether is better than the other - we need both). I suspect I created my Time Leadership Book as part of a quest to conquer some small part of management (and I know that teaching is the best way to learn)

I blogged about Leadership vs. Management early in my blogging career in May 2005 because my blog is called CEO Blog - Time Leadership (not Time Management). I am more of a leader type than a management type. From that post:

"Leadership is about doing the right things, Management is about doing things right.Leadership is about having the map and going the right direction (goals). Management is about going there efficiently.Leadership is about effectiveness. Management is about efficiency.

Leadership comes before Management."


At 8:40 AM, Blogger Stuart R. Crawford said...

Jim, a very powerful message this morning - I thank you for that.

I felt compelled to blog about it this morning as well. I had an HR consultant in to visit that wants everyone to be managers, not the best use of my time I believe.

Here is my posting on what you blogged about

Have a great day Jim and thank you for being such an inspiration.

Stuart Crawford
Calgary, AB

At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your usual, thoughtful post, Jim. I think the issue of managers versus leaders is counterproductive. Everyone who's responsible for the performance of a group, whether it's a CEO like you or a shop floor supervisor, does both leadership work and management work. Debating about whether there's difference between people called managers and leaders keeps us from concentrating on the fact that if you're responsible for group performance you do both kinds of work.

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many managers receive poor or no coaching.

They miss opportunities to become more effective in their positions of influence and are often denied promotions they deserve. Hiring an executive coach can help them enormously. It's the right tool to alleviate common leadership problems.

What Is Executive Coaching?

Broadly defined, executive coaching is a one-on-one consulting relationship dedicated to improving high-level managers' leadership capabilities and performance. Close to 60 percent of U.S. corporations employ coaches, and approximately 10,000 executive coaches are practicing today.

Coaching helps conquer ingrained leadership behaviors in ways that few other developmental approaches can muster. Senior executives value the privacy the experience affords, while managers appreciate learning how to coach their reports.


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