I’ll be the first to say that management is an important part of a leader’s repertoire. I’ve never agreed with the thinking that we have to move from management to leadership. Rather, I think depending on the situation, we have to switch our hats from leadership to management and vice versa as is necessary. Basically, we have to facile with operating as leaders and managers at all times.
Despite that, there is a tremendous difference in what the words “manage” and “lead” entail. For instance, when we say, “I’ll manage,” we’re basically sharing that we’ll deal with whatever is coming our way. And “dealing with” something often registers as a negative; in other words, we’re going to handle something that we don’t really want to do, or something that surprised us in a bad way.
When we say, “I’ll lead,” usually that exhibits a sense of direction and a request for trust. It is a much more positive and supportive statement than the former. When we lead, we’re letting others know that we aren’t just going to deal with whatever comes our way. We are going to actively seek out (and/or actively avoid) certain situations and scenarios on the pathway we take.
So, I wonder a bit about how to shift the thinking around management. Sometimes, situations need to be managed because there isn’t enough capacity to lead yet, or we haven’t yet had the time to truly consider the implications of change in that area. Since I find that time is often a factor in whether I wear a management hat or a leadership one, I wonder if it makes sense that both management and leadership need to “live” together. Situations will always arise that we aren’t prepared for; we simply can’t know every situation that is going to come our way.
And, when those challenging situations do arise, we want to make sure that our management skills are up to par. Otherwise, we’ll attempt to lead in a situation that requires more skillful management, and while our intentions will be of the highest quality, our actions, and therefore their results, will likely lead us in the wrong way.
So, let’s welcome the interplay between leadership and management, with the understanding that through this connection, our goal of being the best leaders we can be, can actually be realized.