Management versus leadership

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You might be a manager, but are you a leader? While both roles are important, Walter Bellin from Corporate Crossroads consulting explains how only a leader can motivate advisers and make them want to contribute to your desired business outcomes:

In modern workplaces when someone is hired or promoted into a supervisory, management or executive position they play two very different but complementary roles: a management role and a leadership role. While both roles are important, the leadership role is the ultimate key to consistently high levels of business performance, and to happy customers and motivated employees. This applies whatever the size of your business – from large multinationals and professional firms to small business.

What exactly is the management role? Basically it is about organising the business processes of a company to be efficient and effective in achieving its desired business outcomes. This involves creating and maintaining an organisational structure, various business systems, introducing or creating new business technologies, creating and enforcing company policies, organising the workforce – and so forth. Above all, managers rely upon their positional authority in an organisational hierarchy for directing staff to undertake various tasks or responsibilities.

So, what then is the leadership role and why is it of such overriding importance? The first important difference between management and leadership is that a good leader inspires people to want to undertake the workplace activities or responsibilities they are assigned – whereas someone only exercising the management role simply directs the employee to do so. A good leader achieves this outcome through two integrated methods: firstly, through communicating the organisation’s mission (its fundamental purpose), its vision (what it intends to achieve) and the values that are intended to be the foundation of the organisation’s culture; secondly, by showing how the task or responsibility the employee is asked to undertake will contribute to the realisation of the organisation’s vision and mission. Good leaders understand that what makes our work meaningful is being able to see and understand how what we do contributes to a larger purpose that we believe to be of real value.

The important caveat, of course, is that a business’ mission and vision must represent an intrinsically inspiring purpose. This is true whatever the size or nature of your business. To be truly inspiring, the company or firm’s leaders must create and pursue a purpose that is inclusive. It must mandate that the business contributes something of real value to all its stakeholders: its customers, its suppliers, its employees, the communities in which it operates – as well as its shareholders if it is a publicly traded company.

The quality of a company or firm’s mission and vision will, in turn, be a function of the values its leaders espouse and the organisational culture those values are intended to create.