Management Versus Leadership: What's it all about?

These are the simple facts, unless you're mostly a motivational figurehead, you'll manage much more than you lead. The Queen of England is a great leader, the Prime Minister needs to be a great manager. 

Now, you may think I'm splitting hairs, and I will use manager and leader somewhat interchangeably, but the focus is management. Regardless, I know everyone want's to be called a great leader, but the simple truth is most people need, really need, to be the best managers they can be. Think of your patient relationships. Are you leading their care or are you managing it? There, that says it all. 

You may be sitting at your desk noshing down on a burger and fries, but you're telling your patients to watch their cholesterol, eat well and exercise. That's managing. Of course, there are those reading this who say, "I work hard to be fit and present an appropriate image to my patients." Yes, you do, but most - not all certainly, of your patients don't really know what you do. Your responsibility becomes one of managing their health and their compliance as best you can.

When I speak of managing then, I'm talking about a skill set that does contain motivational elements and is best exercised in an environment of do as I do, not just, as I say. Managers who set the right example are more successful, and usually more easily so. However, Leadership, with a capital "L" is much more about taking charge and running into the breach with your troops behind you. Very few if any business situations will place you directly on the front lines. Usually, you'll be working through and with others, dependent on their skills and abilities to do the day to day heavy lifting. 

Add to that what I would describe as the differences between leading and managing with today's emphasis on highly structured organizations. I won't name all the programs here, but Edwards Deming is probably the father of modern management systems and training. He's been followed by a host of others from Stephen Drucker to Stephen Covey.... Lean Management, Six Sigma, ad nauseam. Why? Why, because as organizations have grown - globalized, and became more complex, they moved from being creators to producers. And, producers succeed through consistency in product - not by one assembly line producing different widgets than another. Standardization was necessary. Leaders don't standardize. Managers do. 

Therefore, that is why at a very pragmatic and practical level I focus on managing. It may not be as sexy as leadership, but after you receive your first pink slip because you don't fit the organization, you'll realize you likely focused too much on trying to be a leader rather than doing the simple heavy lifting of management. That doesn't mean you should simply assume the role of "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit," but you should be careful that your management styles and interests fit the organization - or better yet, that the organization fits your style.