How to Find Balance Between Leadership and Management

September 12, 2012 14 Comments

Leadership Versus ManagementToday’s post is by Ming Ong.  Learn more about him at the end of the post.  Here’s Ming…

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.

Photo: Leadership vs management by Olivier Carre-Delisle

14 Responses to “How to Find Balance Between Leadership and Management”

  1. Another important idea here is that often leadership comes from people who are not the managers. A sports team exemplifies this best–the team captain may do much more to motivate high levels of play than the coach or manager might. In our business organizations, the same often holds true. A competitve individual might drive performance, a nurturing one, or even a person who is simply intensely devoted to the mission of the organization or of a particular project or cause.

    As managers, one of the most important things we can do in our general leadership role is to identify who those people are, and to give them the latitiude to help us drive exceptional performance through their own special leadership skills.

  2. brian cecere says:

    that one can see the sun does not mean one has great vision. anyone with any responsibility for others’ work needs to inspire. the etymology of the word, “inspire” comes from the latin, to inflame/blow into”.

    if managers are or have been delimited to simply moving work around efficiently, then they have been reduced to mechanisms; they are souless and without the ability to breathe from the same atmosphere from which their workers do.

    thanks for pointing out that humans require inspiration to produce the very best.

  3. Nell McPhillips says:

    Good article. I have seen such an imbalance between Managment and Leadership in Federal Government. In one agency it was all leadership with little management. In another agency it has been all management and little leadership. Funny thing is that in the all managment agency they send their up and coming to leadership training and time and time again I see if you are managment oriented even leadership training cannot help you if you go back to a heavily Managed organization. I am leadership oriented and was excited after Leadership training only to come back to a management agency that is unable to accept my new ideas. Have now settled to lead teams and give up on every getting into management. Team leaders can get the job done. Leaders can lead where they are!

  4. perry says:

    could not agree more and have always thought that leadership and management are different ends of the same spectrum and those who “get it” move back and forth on the spectrum each day depending on what it required.

    • Anthony says:

      I always believed in that a leaders leads employees and manages projects. You do not manage employees. The balance is between the two but both do not involve employees.

  5. […] How to Find Balance Between Leadership and Management – 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.” […]

  6. […] Ong recently wrote an article on thoughtLeaders entitled “How to Find Balance Between Leadership and Management,” and it dives into how to build positive relationships. As business leaders and managers, we […]

  7. […] at (for) _______" ? How often do you hear, "____ is a leader…."?   This SmartBrief reminds us there IS a difference, AND they are both absolutely necessary in any business […]

  8. […] Ong recently wrote an article on thoughtLeaders entitled “How to Find Balance Between Leadership and Management,” and it dives into how to build positive relationships. As business leaders and managers, we […]

  9. Can you tell me who is the artist for the picture in this article?

  10. Right on. This is awesome. I love finding individuals whos minds meet with my own. In my experience, it seems that most business owners struggle with 4 things: Time, Team, Sales and Organizational Development. Does this seem like the case to you? Would love to connect-

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