Monday 23 April 2012

Why management rocks, and leadership sucks

[Image by _MG_5503]

The past 24 hours I had a fierce conversation on leadership and management, and I love how just everyone joined in on Twitter; especially those that disagree with me because they teach me most in the shortest amount of time

I started it with
By the way, that picture of the Redskins cheerleaders is just there to spice up my blog and the post. Might lead your eyes astray for a moment, but no pun intended. I had a very hard time to select photographs that weren't shot at some battlefield or military institution, seems like the US army keeps their men happy that way. Now that is what I call management par example...

A few quotes:

and from there we went on to management, of course:

A lot more followed, and images quickly formed inside of my brain. Let me jot down a few thoughts from the conversations:

  • Managers and leaders are made from different stuff. They can be both, but that's an exception rather than rule
  • Many want to be led by leaders, but very few want to be managed by managers. Can you be led by managers, or managed by leaders?
  • There are many people who prefer to have others stand on the stage, or just take responsibility
  • Managers seem to take the more task / activity orientation towards them, leaders get involved in conceptual / strategic matters
  • In general, or let's say popular opinion, if you're bad "at it" you get to be called a manager, otherwise a leader - and vice versa

Martin English hits my nerve when he asks "maybe Management is about managing processes and people, Leadership is about changing processes and people ?"
I dig change versus growth very much, and I see my favourite topics coming together again:

  • Managers live by rules, are rigid, instruct you what to do, like to order the simple tasks around your working day so their predictions can easily be measured. Leaders go for the exceptions, are highly flexible, ask you what you want to do, start something complex and see where that will lead to
  • Managers approach you from the outside, leaders approach you from the inside
  • Managers stand at a distance from you, leaders are close - distance versus proximity
  • Speaking in Push versus Pull: managers Push, leaders Pull. Managers force you to adopt their methods, leaders gently tweak you into adapting to their new ways
  • Managers want to change you, leaders like to see you grow - anonymity versus intimacy

These are the black and white definitions, and let me throw a few associations into that same pool then while we're at it:

  • Managers are so 1.0 - leaders are 2.0, no, 3.0 even
  • Managers are suffocating Enterprises, leaders are found in abundance in Social Businesses
  • Managers keep you in your straightjacket: if they can't keep make you change into their mold, they'll at least stop you from self-development and growth. They will either grow you in their direction or not at all: managers treat you like a bonzai tree
  • Leaders challenge you every day, inspire you, make you question everything - they don't give you answers, they make you look for them yourself. Leaders stimulate you to reach the very best in your Real Self
  • Leaders live by Love and let Love, managers use Fear to scare you (back?) into the ranks

(I thought I'd take that all the way through)

This is a hot topic for me of course - it's all about Business or Pleasure, and if leaders achieve one thing it is letting you have Pleasure in doing Business, even if you're just a simple drone. I have depicted a few outer-scale characteristics and opinions on managers and leaders, and I think both have a goal and place

If you take my Social Business Magic Quadrant, elaborated in my Social Business eBook, you'll see that leaders pretty much follow people, and managers follow products - although that may be putting things in a wrong perspective. Leaders are needed most where people interaction is highest, beit among employees or in between customers and employees

But do we all want to be leaders? Even if so, we shouldn't. Can't have leaders in assembly lines, you need managers there. Can't have leaders awaken all the employees in a business unit - let sleeping dogs lie.  Can't have leaders for your old employees who only have 5 year more to go until pension, already counting down since 10 years before that. Can't have leaders be nice and kind and inspiring when you need to lay off people, cut to the bone on the verge of survival. Your company (including all your customers) or your employees? Tough but simple choice...?

Other than that, leaders are high-care personnel. Leaders demand blank cheques, commitment from their managers and peers, a big bonus when they succeed where others have failed. Let's just say that leaders know how to positively wield their ego. But put three leaders in one room and I doubt they'll all make it out of there alive

I think we like leaders because to us they represent the good, the nice, and the lovely. I think we overdo all this leadership worshipping on our road to Social euphoria, and make asses of ourselves when we play the evangalyst role trying to assess their value for a company

I think we sometimes need to get back to the cold harsh reality and admit that you can have five leaders in one company at best, but can never have enough managers: dozens, hundreds, thousands even.
Can't have too many managers - that, history has shown

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