Are you truly aware of how you relate to your employees and in turn how they view you? Is the variable in the equation like a flip of a coin? One side equalling pure management while the other represents leadership? So what exactly is the difference between leadership and management?
Leadership and Management Types
Do you spend your working hours in a strictly supervisory capacity? Are your days filled with policing every activity that the people that work for you are supposed to be accomplishing? Are you in a constant state of mental and emotional turmoil, awaiting the next employee-sponsored curve ball to be thrown your way? If any of this appears familiar, you might be in danger of being viewed by your people as a micro-manager.
On the other hand, you might be one of those individuals who prides themselves on how well your people operate sans watchdog. Independent of constant supervision, they continue to perform admirably, completing the work expected of them with minimal, if any encouragement. They seem to work out their professional and interpersonal differences amongst themselves, enabling you to pursue other pressing issues at hand. This situation will also have you in danger of being labeled by your employees, this time as a “Laissez Faire” management type.
While you might see yourself as the respected leader who does not need to hover over their employees’ every move, you might in reality, be seen as someone who cannot be bothered with the ‘little people’ (ie your employees). Aloof and uninvolved, the individuals working under you might very well actually be performing at the bare minimum of their potential. Doing just enough not to get noticed or fired, they equate your hands off style as a low or no need for accountability.
Knowing The Difference
While both of these styles exist abundantly in our contemporary workforce, are employees more heavily influenced by management rather than leadership? What is the difference? If management is defined as “the act of coordinating the efforts of people to accomplish desired goals using available resources efficiently”, while leadership may be defined as “organizing a group of people to achieve a common objective” – then really, What Is The Difference? Is it simply a different style? Or is the difference more of an intangible quality?
First and foremost, we must look at management as the act of leading a group of people to achieve common goals. Leadership itself whether it be laissez faire, or a more hands on approach, is how one goes about administering the act of management. An easier answer might be that leadership is the locomotive engine that provides direction, power and speed to the train of effective management.
Two Components Of Leadership
Now one could go into chapters examining what effective leadership is. For our purposes here, we shall concentrate on two primary components that govern good leadership and therefore contribute to a positive management style: Leading by example, and perceptive communication.
Leading By Example
Leading by example is somewhat self explanatory. As a leader of a team, you will benefit immensely from proving to your employees that your goals and their goals are one in the same. One way of demonstrating this is to roll up your sleeves and get into the trenches with your troops. This is not to say that you must make all decisions unilaterally and micro-manage their every move. However, watching their leader step in to help with some of the ‘heavy hauling’ so to speak, goes a long way in keeping up a team’s’ morale and their desire to achieve.
While a leader is working directly with their team, they can learn to employ the second area of expertise concerning strong leadership – perceptive communication. Through your actions (words, tone of voice and body language) you create a trust culture that demonstrates accountability, collaboration and innovation. Also as an innovative leader, you search out sources that can help you develop such a climate.
Try not to usurp an employee’s duties, something they should personally be accountable for – this might serve only as negative reinforcement by taking the job out of their hands. Instead, take some time and ask your team where they might be able to use some extra help. Then pursue the tricky part – Listen to what your team has to say, and try to lend a hand regardless of how menial or minimal the task might be. By simply showing that you are not afraid to get your hands soiled, you display leadership from the front.
Once more however, as in laissez faire management, caution must be used in a hands on leadership style. A balance between “high task” and “high touch” must be found. You want to display your willingness to work alongside your team, although at the same time, you don’t want to have them get used to you doing all the dirty work to the point that they no longer view those particular duties as an expected part of their job. They also must feel that you sincerely care.
Which brings us back to where we began; How do your employees look at you? As the coin spins – heads leadership, tails management. It resembles the constant dance of yin and yang (one interconnected with the other). It would seem to be that the imaginary coin should in the end, land on it’s edge displaying a good balance between the two sides – or leadership and management. This displays evidence of leadership as one who strives to manage people who in turn display accountability in managing performance.
To find out how Vantage Path can help straighten out your leadership and management mess, click here.