Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You a Leader or Manager?

LeaderWomanbs01584_When I worked for the global giant Siemens many years ago, I reported to a boss who thought he was leading us, but Don was only managing us. He provided little inspiration, cross-functional collaboration or innovation. While he thought of us as followers, we felt like subordinates. Don didn’t realize that subordinates comply with marching orders, whereas followers commit to pursuing worthy goals. Lunch with Peter Drucker helped me understand this distinction.

The purpose of my luncheon meeting with management guru Peter Drucker, whom Harvard Business Review considers the “father of management,” was to discuss the overall strategy for a new organization we were building at UCLA. After soaring with Professor Drucker’s illuminating ideas, I found myself back on earth in my office reviewing budget details. These two experiences summed up my responsibilities as the chief administrative officer of this organization. One minute I was thinking big picture and developing long-term goals, the next I was clarifying objectives and managing operations. I was answering YES to the question, am I a leader or a manager? If I wanted to have followers, instead of just subordinates, I needed to be a leader and a manager. The same is true for you.

How often do you find yourself engaged in what some call “leadership” activities, such as developing long-term goals or strategies, collaborating with others across divisions or departments, inspiring change or innovation among your team members? Do you also engage in what many would label traditional “management” behaviors, such as clarifying objectives and expectations, developing plans, managing operations, or monitoring your environment? Whether you consider yourself a leader or a manager, success in today's flat, complex and interdependent work environment demands that you use the complementary skills of both. Of course, there is a difference regarding the amount, nature, and exact mix of these skills depending on your level of responsibility in the organization. Never-the-less, if you are going to unleash the energy of your team toward worthy goals (the very definition of a leader), research says you need to be a leader and a manager.

In his review of approximately 1,300 scientific studies on leadership, Professor Gary Yukl states, "most scholars seem to agree that success as a manager or administrator in modern organizations necessarily involves leading." (1) To which I add; success as a leader also involves managing. Integrating the latest research on leadership  and management skills to help you conquer your daunting challenges and unleash the energy of people toward your worthy goals is the objective of this blog.

Where do you see an unbalanced practice of leadership and management skills?

Keep eXpanding,

P.S. Dave Jensen is a Senior Lecturer and leadership coach at Emory University’s School of Business and president of his own training/coaching firm. He and his team transform proven leadership tools into your success stories. Dave is also a popular speaker at conferences, meetings, and workshops. He can be reached in Los Angeles, CA at (310) 397-6686 and http://davejensenonleadership.com/index.html

1. Yukl, Gary; Leadership in Organizations, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2006, page 6.)


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