There are many leadership ideas out there that seem, at times, to be over-complicated and a bit unwieldy. Often, management is quite a simply design with some detail
woven in among the fabric of complexity. But if we were to really examine the roles of the people within our business, I believe we can divide them into three components.
The senior management team (MD, Chief Exec, Senior Board members, etc) should be spending a large proportion of their time working on strategy and vision. These are the people who drive the organisation, ensuring the plans are in place for the business to go forward. They create the vision for others to follow. They build the strategy for the business to run forward. They develop the values that everyone in the company lives by. They ensure everyone has confidence in the future. And they commit to the mission that will make the business profitable.
The middle management team consist of the people who apply the strategy, vision and values.They link in with the senior team to drive the mission forward, working to ensure the ideas generated from the people who hold the purse-strings are applied effectively. They provide the leadership for the teams working for them to actually carry out the work.
The final layer are the producers, the people who ensure the work is carried out, motivated and driven by the leaders above them who set the guidelines and ensure continuity of business.
Effectively, each layer should be ensuring they make it easy for the layer below them to carry out their jobs. By providing the correct vision, top management provide the tools for middle managers to lead the producers effectively. If the producers (the people actually going out there and selling, giving customer service, answering the phones, building the customer relationships, etc) don’t feel adequately led, they will feel unclear about their roles and responsibilities, and maybe not tap into their full productive capabilities.
If the leaders don’t feel their senior team have set the right vision or direction for the business to follow, they will not have the full commitment and positivity to drive producers forward to achieve.
It’s like a well-oiled machine that gives great performance when maintained properly, and causes alarm and distress when ignored and neglected.
Ask whether the Vision, Leadership and Production within your business is in complete harmony. If so, you have a smooth-running engine. If not, maintenance is needed to ensure its continuity.
Head of Training
(Image by Renjith Krishnan)
When should you lead and when should you manage?
This age-old question has been asked by many people on our programmes.
Our short answer is…it depends on the situation. Whether you show adequate leadership skills or display excellent management abilities will be determined by the results you are trying to achieve. Management and leadership are like different sides of the same coin, and it’s vital that you choose wisely, or you may be looking at the wrong side. Here’s some thoughts of how to differentiate between the two:
A manager thinks short term, tactically, a leader has a longer term, more strategic focus.
A manager plans how and when, a leader asks “what?” and “how?”
A manager looks at the bottom line, a leader looks to the horizon.
A manager knows the business, a leader knows the customer.
A manager focuses on improving existing products and processes, a leader focuses on the new product and the breakthrough process.
A manager supervises, a leader influences.
A manager builds success through quality, a leader builds success through employees.
A manager sets standards of performance, a leader sets new standards.
You can see that it’s mainly a case of what situation you are in before you choose to adopt a clear leadership style or whether you decide to manage the scenario. A rough guide would be that managers manage tasks and leaders lead people. If you have a report to complete by the end of the week, you manage the time, resources, equipment, planning, organisation and control of the project. You lead the people side of the project by motivating, communicating, giving feed-forward and feed-back, mentoring and coaching the staff who will be helping you achieve the results you are looking for.
Be careful not to mix up the two, though. Management is about planning, control and organisation. People don’t like to have their day planned or controlled for them. Set the results you want clearly and succinctly, then lead the people to achieve those results.
That way, you don’t confuse your people about expectations and objectives. Lead your people, manage your tasks, and everyone will know where they are.