In Leading Change, the Leaders as Chief Transformation Officer, Warren Bennis said, “Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communication.”
The fine line between management and leadership within the workplace is encountered often, and by many individuals in position of authority. Business leaders often fall into a managerial role and take on a plethora of management tasks. However, leadership and management are two distinctively different, though complementary, systems of action.
Management is about controlling tasks and creating order in an environment, while leadership is about influencing and motivating staff. Without structured management and control, a business can snowball into chaos. Management is crucial to the success of every and any business, regardless of the industry or business size.
Without successful leadership, employees are not motivated to do any more than the bare minimum – also eventually leading to chaos and disorder. Leadership without management cannot sustain change and make improvements in the now; management without leadership is a goalless endeavor that lacks “the big picture” where businesses remain resilient to change.
What our businesses today need are managers who lead, inspire and motivate employees to achieve business-wide goals. Relying too heavily on one or the other can be detrimental to a business.
A large part of being a productive leader is to build and foster relationships with employees, and to encourage employees to build solid relationships with one another. Looking at the long term, healthy relationships in the workplace build an environment where employees want to complete their tasks and are not forced to do so, where they would otherwise grow to resent you as a manager. While you may be managing your employees and seeing tasks are completed, a bitter relationship will form and employees will approach work halfheartedly. Finding a balance between management and leadership can come down to healthy relationships, inspiring staff and a productive environment that fosters growth and achievement.
A few things that help build positive relationships are:
- Employee awareness. Keep in regular contact with your employees, hear about what your employees are doing and what they have on their plate. They will appreciate that you take the time to understand their daily tasks and the effort you put into talking to them.
- Accountability. Hold your employees accountable for their tasks and to-do lists. This goes hand-in-hand with understanding your employees’ task lists and timelines.
- Empowerment. Offer guidance to your employees but let them make decisions when possible. This makes them feel valuable and encourages them to learn more, which they will grow to appreciate.
- Inspire, don’t control. Micro-managers and/or controlling leaders often deter employees from reaching out, taking educated risks and takes away from a self governed that hosts a desired driven work ethic.
As a manager or as a leader, the ultimate goals are the same – the path to get there is where they differ. But ultimately, we need to find the balance between the two, no matter how difficult it seems. Building lasting relationships, creating a productive and inviting atmosphere, and ensuring that the necessary tasks are being completed beyond expectations – that is what we seek in the workplace. As respected relationships are built between employees, a productive environment will self-generate: one that fosters employee growth and communication, and ultimately leads to a successful business.
- Ming Ong regularly writes for ShiftPlanning Inc., a San Francisco based company that offers an online workforce management and staff scheduling software application.