According to Webster’s, the definition of Management is: “the conducting or supervising of something (such as a business)” and “judicious use of means to accomplish an end” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary APP)
In addition, Webster’s defines Leadership as: “the office or position of a leader; capacity to lead; and the act or an instance of leading- leadership molds individuals into a team”. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary APP).
By definition, management and leadership seem different, but in practice they certainly are intertwined. However, with certain individuals the two shall never meet.
We have all had bosses that were managers, others that were leaders and sometimes if we were fortunate, both. What makes one person a manager and the other a leader? That is a complex question that I’m sure has a variety of answers. Here are my thoughts….
First, I want to share that at 16 years old, I started working as a tray aid delivering food trays to patients at the local hospital. I started noticing the attributes of my bosses. I noticed how they made decisions, how they conducted themselves and how they interfaced with employees. I took note of what I liked and left the rest. This intel I collected over the years, and still am collecting, has paved a clear direction for me in my work life and in my leadership, but it wasn’t instantaneous.
After being a tray aid for a couple years, I was promoted to cafeteria supervisor at age 18. I found myself managing others that were my parents age. I was unskilled and just wanted to get things done and done quickly. All those observations I had made and behaviors I noted from my previous bosses, was gained knowledge but putting it into practice was more difficult. I managed others based on my title and authority, instead of tapping into my learned and innate attributes. I was rough around the edges in my approach. Welcome to my first lesson in management and leadership………
Whether you are managing/leading 5, 50, or 5,000 people, it has its challenges. Keeping a business functioning, ensuring that employees are engaged and productive, and being responsible for operations running smoothly are all a part of management/leadership. The bottom line is the bottom line; increase revenue and decrease cost. When you are hypervigilant at driving profit and effective functionality, while extinguishing fires that inevitably start up routinely, how does this allow for time to develop leadership skills? With everyday happenings, management can feel like running on a hamster wheel with the main goal being, to get stuff done.
I believe the bridge between management and leadership has to do with using attributes, both innate and learned, AND really pushing one’s boundaries and comfort zone. Managers can be driven, take care of their teams, be collaborative, and be committed. So, things get done.
Leaders don’t stop at just getting things done, they make an impact and impression. Leaders are courageous risk takers that are fearlessly driven to challenge others/superiors, and organizations for the good of the company. They are not afraid to make unpopular decisions and they do it with strength not bullying. Leaders are decisive, take ownership of the good and bad while fostering growth in others. They are not threatened by their teams’ talents; they enjoy having their team make them look good. Leaders instill confidence in their team and as they pave the way to change through example, the team is willing to follow a proven trusted leader.
Good management and good leadership complement each other; great leaders need great managers and vice versa. Not everyone wants to be or is capable of being a leader, and that is ok-nobody is good at everything. However, it is important to know what kind of boss you want to be or what kind of boss you want to work for. If you are clear on these, it helps move you in the right direction and into the right culture/organization.
This is a vast topic and I would love to hear from all of you about what you think. Again, we can learn from each other.
Disclaimer: the advice in this blog is meant to provide guidance and be thought provoking. It is the writer’s opinion only.