The following is an excerpt from One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (you can get your copy here). This post focuses on the difference between management and leadership. I would love to hear your thoughts on how the two are different so please share your ideas in the comments at the end of the post.
You are a leader. Management and leadership are not the same thing. The difference is simple: you manage things; you lead people. Admiral Grace Murray Hopper coined this elegant, clear distinction. Yet there is still a lot of confusion on this point.
Management is task-focused. It is short term. It is a series of checklists and to do’s that ensure the work gets done. It is taking actions to hit a budget number or deliver a project on time. Management is how we execute tasks to achieve a specific desired outcome. Said simply, it is the movement of personnel, materiel, and tasks with an exact set of measurable results in mind.
Managing things consumes a large portion of our time. It requires forms, reports, meetings, analyses, and documentation. If left unchecked, such tasks will consume every available moment in the day. Sometimes it seems all we do is work on tasks related to managing the organization. When that happens we can easily mistake management for leadership. The logic underpinning that confusion goes like this:
Fact 1: We are leaders.
Fact 2: Leadership is the most important thing we do.
Fact 3: Because we are leaders we only spend our time on the most important things.
Fact 4: All our time is spent working on meetings, reports, forms, and analyses.
Conclusion: Meetings, reports, forms, and analyses must be leadership because if they are not, we are not spending our time on the most important things.
The flaws in that logic are obvious when those points are presented starkly in black and white. During the workday, however, it is difficult to differentiate between management and leadership because the world is moving at such a dizzying pace. If those things are not leadership, what is?
Leadership is people-focused. It is the words spoken and actions performed that inspire something deep within another person which leads that person to act independently to advance the interests of the team. Leadership is inspiring and influencing people to act in ways they ordinarily would not.
Inspiration is the key. Great leaders have a keen ability to inspire others to tap into their own pools of energy in a way that unleashes their innate potential. For someone to be properly inspired, the leader must help that individual see how special they are to those around them.
Leadership is demonstrating that you put others before yourself and that your primary interest is their best interest. Leading entails articulating a vision of something larger than the individuals involved, helping those involved understand their role in achieving it and inspiring them to take on seemingly insurmountable challenges because they believe in your vision to the core of their being. Leadership and management work hand in hand but truly are fundamentally different concepts.
- If you’re serious about doing less managing and more leading, grab yourself a copy of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. There are plenty of suggestions in there for how you can make leadership a much larger part of your job than management. CLICK HERE to get your copy.