What is leadership without management?

This post forms part of my learning journal for the West Lothian Leadership Programme.

 

To begin to answer this perhaps it is first necessary to think about and try to define leadership and management.

My initial feelings would be that leadership is the Jed Bartlet, Nasser Hussain figure. The person who has vision, inspires people to follow that vision, ensures that the people they have working for them share that vision and work towards it.

Management often feels less positive to me. If something needs managing that for me has a connotation of a problem which needs to held in abeyance almost. It is the person who maybe stifles some of the vision of the leader in the cause of ‘a higher figure’. I’m thinking Tim Lamb trying to manage the Zimbabwe situation with Nasser Hussain in the 2003 world cup – not something conducive to progression .

 

As you can see I’m not exactly starting off with equally positive views of leadership and management.

 

My next part of the task was to read up on leadership and management. In these days of the internet information is but a click away, however finding information you trust and respect is not so easy. For my reading I chose an article from The Guardian, which then linked through to the Harvard Business Review and a blog post on Lifehacker.

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School feels that

“Management is a set of processes that keep an organisation functioning. They make it work today – they make it hit this quarter’s numbers. The processes are about planning, budgeting, staffing, clarifying jobs, measuring performance, and problem-solving when results did not go to plan.”

Clearly that is a more positive definition than mine, and reading it made me realise that management is necessary to get the jobs done, otherwise the vision of the leader will not be realised.

Johnathan Gosling, from the University of Exeter gives an example of a management technique,

“Target setting is a management technique used to focus attention on certain activities. A hospital, for example, might set targets around waiting times.”

For this exercise to work, someone within the hospital must show leadership by emphasising the importance of the activity.

“In this example, the wider purpose is helping patients to lead better lives. A leader needs to inspire employees by showing how meeting a target can contribute towards this aim. They also need to think of new ways of reaching that target.”

Again, that challenges my ideas around management. In this example management leads directly to the positive outcome which the leader wants (i.e. less waiting time in hopsitals). Gosling says that someone needs to show the leadership by emphasising the importance of the target setting. Does that suggests that the leadership did not create the target setting activity? i.e. they have to show someone else’s visions?

I also read what Kotter has to say about leadership.

It (leadership) is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behavior. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

I think that is something which sits easily with my initial feelings around leadership. Bartlet and Hussain were people who changed things (ok one was fictional!!) for the better. My view of the captains who succeeded Hussain is that they were not the quality of leader Hussain was, although they were more successful.

Kotter talks about leadership from any place in the hierarchy, it would be interesting to go back in time and look at the role successful leaders played prior to them gaining the higher space in the hierarchy, and also how any leadership they showed was treated by their actual leaders and managers.

The question asks what is leadership without manage. It seems to me that management should be the mechanisms, which ensure delivery of the vision of the leader. In turn, the leader needs to share the vision, enthuse and inspire with the vision.

Therefore, I think leadership without management is a vision, a passion, a pathway, but with no means of delivering it – people may agree completely with it but without management (even self-management). The vision will remain unfulfilled as the actual changes required will never take place.

 

Sources:

http://careers.theguardian.com/difference-between-leadership-management

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/01/management-is-still-not-leadership/

http://lifehacker.com/search?q=leadership

http://lifehacker.com/search?q=management

 

 

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