Management vs. Leadership

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

I often imagine Napoleon was an unreasonable man, and he certainly knew about conflict.

In business I have managed conflict between Leadership and Management.

And I’m not simply talking about people when I say this, I’m talking about conflicting priorities and ingrained behaviors.  The conflict I’m referring to could just as easily reside in one person as between many.

Here’s one reason why I see the tension arise:

Management is about bringing order, structure, certainty and predictability to the organization.  Management is trained, incentivized and rewarded for being the reasonable man.

Leadership is about embracing change, driving change and challenging the order.

Large, mature often highly regulated companies place a high value on effective management, those who can keep the business machine well-oiled and running smoothly every day.  Good management is valued and rewarded for safeguarding tight controls and maintaining a highly predictable outcome.

But these same companies often cry out and lament for what they’ve now lost, their entrepreneurial edge.

Smaller, younger, often pioneering companies have entrepreneurial edge, it’s the blade with which they carve out their niche.

But these smaller often hungrier and more vulnerable companies cry out and lament for what they envy and long to gain: repeatable, predictable stability and structure, that can scale.

Napoleon knew the difference between management and leadership, or as my close friend Matthew Whiley helped me to see while I was visiting him in Hong Kong recently, “No one yet has figured how to manage people into war, they must be led”

*Matthew was formerly a British Army Officer who had the privilege to command the 1st Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, and whose career included planning multinational logistics for the United Nations and NATO as well as brokering international agreements in the Balkans.

It’s probably a safe bet to assume no successful battle ever followed its plan entirely, despite Napoleon planning every battle far more meticulously than any earlier general is known to have done.

And this tells me Napoleon was both a master manager and leader, because when changes came he was quick to adapt and to motivate those around him to adapt too.

A wartime army therefore needs competent leadership at all levels.  And by leadership I mean a willingness and readiness to change.

Our organizations need this too.

Adoption of new technologies means the pace of change is unprecedented, this is not news.

The value of effective leadership is therefore increasing.  Simply because leadership is about change.

The tension for management is massive, cherished order and established systems might now seem more like sandcastles, built by day and washed away overnight.

Disruptive technologies.  Global connectivity.  Deregulating markets.  Overcapacity in capital-intensive industries.  Unstable, unpredictable oil markets.  Financial markets looking for the next big short.

Not to mention, five generations in the workforce:

  • iGen, aka Generation Z: born 1996 and after
  • Millennials, aka Generation Y: born 1977 to 1995
  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists: born 1945 and before

And, according to Zero Hedge, the world is set to experience “peak youth” in 2020, for the first time in human history, as the number of people aged over 65 is expected to outnumber those under 5 years old.

The net result is screaming at us, all of us in the workforce.

More change means more leadership, at every level of the organization. Read Leadership in 3 Steps.

Effective leadership begins with ongoing self-evaluation | At every level of the organization and across every generation | Self-evaluation is at the heart of Emotional Intelligence

  • Management is about structure, bringing order and predictability to organization.
  • Leadership, in contrast, is about coping with change, helping others to embrace change, and inspiring people to engage and apply the energy needed to drive change.
  • Management therefore involves planning and budgeting
  • Leadership involves setting direction
  • Management involves organizing and staffing
  • Leadership involves aligning people
  • Management provides control and solves problems
  • Leadership provides the motivation

Let me know how I can assist you?

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