Managing Stuff, Leading People

Generally speaking, people get promoted because they did something good. Salespeople get promoted to Sales Manager because they were good at selling. A marketing associate gets promoted to Marketing Manager because they had proven themselves to be good marketers. An engineer might get promoted to manager because they designed stuff that worked well and was marketable.

All three of those individuals were promoted to leadership positions and none of them were promoted because they were skilled leaders. Now, they may be good leaders…or they may not, only time will tell.

Here’s a reality of leadership: the vast majority of people are promoted into leadership positions without having demonstrated even a slight ability to actually lead. Many are promoted into leadership positions because they have demonstrated some ability to manage but leading and managing are two entirely different things.

You manage stuff like budgets, inventories and buildings but you lead people. The skill sets are different and more importantly the mindsets are different, in fact, they are completely different. Some people can master both skill sets but that’s less common than many people think.

The biggest mistake a person newly promoted to a leadership position can make is to believe that just because they were good at selling, or marketing or even because they were good at managing, is that they are automatically good at leading.

The saddest thing is that even people who have occupied leadership positions for years still sometimes believe that.

Your position or title doesn’t make you a leader. Even being a good manager doesn’t make you a leader. Running a business, effectively managing every detail, and making money at it, doesn’t make you a leader.

Only leading makes you a leader.

Leading requires that you fully understand the value of people. Leading requires that you understand the unique ability of every individual you would lead. Leading requires that you actually care for those individuals.

This is kind of an aside but here’s one way to determine if you’re talking to a manager or a leader: When you’re talking to a manager you get the feeling that they are important; when you’re talking to a leader you get the feeling that you are important. That “feeling” makes all the difference in the world.

Leading requires that you have the vision required to see the consequences of the consequences of the consequences of every decision you make. It can sometimes seem as if a good leader can see into the future but the truth is, they don’t see the future, they create it.

Let’s be clear, I am not minimizing the importance of good management in any organization. Good management is essential to the stability of every kind of business but management does just that, it keeps things as they are, stable. 

Leadership is not about stability, it is about growth. Leadership is about change for the better. While managers can fall into the trap of believing that strong management can improve a business, leaders know that nothing improves without something changing and they drive that change.

Many more businesses fail due to lack of leadership than fail due to poor management. Think about it, do you really think that businesses like Montgomery Wards, Blockbuster Video, Circuit City, Howard Johnson’s and Borders Books, (to name just a few) suddenly lost the ability to manage their business? 

They didn’t lack sound management, they lacked the vision that a true leader brings to an organization. They lacked the ability to rally their people to a cause. Their people couldn’t commit to the leadership because they couldn’t find any leadership.

I could write forever on the differences between managing and leading but for now I’ll just say this: the first step to understanding the difference between managing and leading is to understand that THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. The difference is not just semantics, the differences are real, concrete and definable. 

Once you understand that basic fact then and only then to you have a chance to truly lead.

When Managers Don’t Lead

Few things in business are more costly than a manager in a leadership position. – Steve Keating

Just so we’re clear about this, I have nothing but respect for great managers. They are the essential clue that hold organizations together. They keep things running smoothly, they execute strategies and tactics. Without sound management no organization can survive. 

But… yes you knew there had to be a but… but, simply putting a great manager into a leadership position does not make them a leader. A manager can be a leader and a leader can be a manager but very often a manager is not a leader and sometimes a great leader is not a good manager. 

Managing and leading are two entirely different things. We’re not talking semantics here, we are talking about a difference as large as night and day.

Managers use a microscope and leaders use a telescope. Managers examine the details, vital details yes, but details all the same. A leader not only sees the details they also see the much bigger picture, they see the wide angle view. While a manager sees what is, a leader sees what could be…and what should be.

Managing is about stuff, budgets, inventories, processes, etc. Leadership is about people and it’s only about people. Better management helps a organization survive, better leadership helps an organization grow. 

Successful organizations need both leaders and managers. Which one, managers or leaders, are more important is like arguing which came first, the chicken or the egg. (Just an aside, if you really want to know which one came first read Genesis in The Bible, it’s abundantly clear that the chicken came first.)

When managers occupy a leadership position without actually leading progress slows down. It can slow down so much that it actually stops. Whenever I see a business that is not growing I almost always see a manager in a position of leadership. 

Good managers can learn to lead after moving into a leadership position. The longer they try to manage when they should be leading the less likely they are to ever truly lead. The most successful leaders were leaders before they had a true leadership position. They understood that leadership was more about their disposition than it was about any position they may one day achieve. 

Some leaders have other leadership positions reporting to them. They must be certain that  leaders occupy those positions. 

Putting managers into leadership positions is a common mistake. It a mistake that produces common results rather then the uncommon results that the most successful organizations use to succeed again and again.

That makes it an incredibly costly mistake.

 

You Are NOT a Good People Manager

imageDon’t feel bad, no one is a good people manager. It’s not your fault, it’s the peoples fault. People don’t want to be managed and people will not be managed.

Your fault lies in trying to manage people in the first place.

If you think you’re managing your people you are just kidding yourself, you may have beaten the energy out of them and forced them to comply but even that is not really managing.

While you can force compliance you can’t force what you really need from your people. You can’t force creativity. You can’t force commitment. You can’t force great customer service. You can’t force someone to value diversity. You can’t force someone to care. You can’t force someone to think a certain way.

But you can lead people to be creative. You can lead them to commit. You can lead them to care and to care enough that they provide your customers with outstanding service. You can lead them to care about other people, even people way different from them. You can even lead and influence them to think and behave in a certain way.

You can lead them to accomplish more than they ever thought possible but before you can lead anyone you must care. You must care about them as people, as human beings with real lives. Lives that matter every bit as much as yours.

You must care so much that your willing to show it. You must care so much that you’re willing to get out of your own comfort zone long enough and often enough so that your people will see how much you truly care about them.

When you lead people rather than trying to manage them magical things happen.

People who are managed are far more likely to display attitude issues than people who are led. People who are managed do what they are told while the people who are led have already done it.

People who are managed seldom grow beyond their job description but people who are led burst the seams of their job descriptions with regularity.

People who work for a manager produce the status quo. People who work for a leader produce the future of the organization.

If you want to continue with the “as is” them keep trying to manage your people. If you prefer a world of limitless opportunity and potential then give your people the leadership the crave.

Lead today and succeed tomorrow!

Managing and Leading are Different AND Essential

Managers create a map to the water and leaders inspire people to be thirsty. – Steve Keating

I’ve written about this before but recently saw yet another post that claims management and leadership are one in the same. They are not!

The skill sets required to manage are vastly different than those required to lead. The mindset of managing is even more different than the mindset of leading. In a perfect world one person can possess both skill sets and mindsets but great managers can be poor leaders and great leaders can be poor managers. They are simply two completely different things.

An organization thrives when it has both good management and good leadership. Whether it requires two people to provide those or whether the organization is blessed with an individual or individuals who can provide both doesn’t really matter. The key is that BOTH leadership and management must coexist within the organization. Management and leadership do not compete in successful organizations, they complete.

As has been written countless times, people will not be managed, they must be led. We manage stuff, processes, workflows, buildings, contracts, inventories, etc. We should not and cannot manage people.

We need, yes need, management practices and policies in place that guide what people can do, that is a part of management. Good management can save us from ourselves by applying “rules” to the workplace that take into account a bigger picture than most of us can see by ourselves.

However, people who are surrounded by ONLY management feel restricted, constrained and in many cases, untrusted. Their productivity and potential are incredibly limited.

Rules and policies are limiting. If they are in place to control “things” that is fine. But both managers and leaders need to know this simply truth: You cannot really control productive people; you can only control unproductive people. When “management” attempts to exert too much control over people they turn productive people into unproductive people.

Leaders balance out management by influencing people to work within the management guidelines in a positive way. They “lead” people to see and reach their potential while working within a system that benefits everyone.

People need someone or something to follow. They need to feel as if they are part of something bigger, they need to know that they matter. They need to know that their efforts, their work, makes a difference. When they know that what they do is important then their potential is truly limitless. None of that can come as a result of being managed, no matter how good the management may be. It can only come from leadership.

Organizations that mistake leadership for management do not grow, they wither. Managers hold a ship steady, leaders set the course and the people get it to it’s destination.

If you’re unsure if what you’re doing is managing or leading think of it like this: if you’re doing it for the business it’s likely managing. If you’re doing for people it’s almost certainly leadership. There’s the real difference between managing and leading.

So… do you know why you do what you do?

The Time to Lead

There are many differences between the mindset of a leader and the mindset of a manager. Here’s a big one: Managers see a team member not performing at the required standards and think “I need to SPEND more time ON that person. Leaders see that same person and think “I need to INVEST more time WITH that person.

The actions that result from those two mindsets make all the difference in the world when it comes to the development of that person.

Before we get too far let me point out that I’m not picking on managers here. We need managers, good ones and lots of them. It’s just that “stuff” is what’s managed, stuff like budgets, buildings, and policies. People however cannot and will not be managed, they must be led and that calls for a leader.

Leading people requires time. It takes a commitment to set aside some of the seemingly urgent tasks to focus on the all important responsibility of leading and developing people. If you see your people as an “expense” then you are not likely to make the required commitment. If you see your people as an investment then you likely will.

As a leader do you intentionally set aside time, perhaps by going so far as to make an appointment on your calendar, to work with and along side your people? Do you use this time to actually perform leadership actions? Actions such as coaching, motivating, listening and modeling the behavior that leads to success.

Or do you simply tell yourself you’ll do that in your free time or maybe your spare time. Take a look at your calendar and see exactly where that “free” or “spare” time is….. it’s not there. That’s why effective leaders really do block time on their calendars for leadership actions. They intentionally make it a point to recognize someone each and every day. They set aside time to just listen to their people, about whatever it is their people want to say to them.

Yes, I know you’re busy, I hope your productive, I really hope you know the difference, but no matter how busy or productive you are if you’re serious about leading then you must make the time to actually lead. It doesn’t just happen, you as a leader must make it happen.

The reality of leadership is this: if you don’t have time to invest in your people then you don’t have time to succeed as a leader.

The Difference Between Managing and Leading

I’ve written about this topic before and since old habits are hard to break I feel a need to continuing writing about it. 

I had the opportunity to spend some time with a long-time friend recently. He is the former CFO of a Fortune 1000 company and the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company. As the conversation often does it turned to various leadership topics. 

He mentioned how the difference between managing and leading was really just a “mirage” and that in fact, there was no difference at all. At first I thought he must be pulling my leg, then I thought he must just be trying to provoke me. Then I finally realized why it was a good idea that he retired when he did.

Believing that managing and leading are one in the same is very, very out-dated thinking. You manage “stuff.” You lead people.

Stuff includes facilities, processes, inventory, capital equipment, and financial matters to name a few. You apply rules and regulations to stuff. If you’re doing something to improve your infrastructure or balance sheet that is most likely managing. 

Only when you’re doing something to improve your people is it truly leading. New computers for your business is NOT leadership. New software is NOT leadership. New vehicles for the sales team is NOT the same as leading your sales team. 

Investing yourself in the future success of the PEOPLE in your organization is leading. People require guidelines, structure, vision, and accountability to succeed. People need someone to care about them as people, not as “human capital.” People need to know they matter to an organization and that what they do makes a difference. They don’t need more rules, policies, and regulations.

Every organization needs both managers and leaders. Sometimes those two very different skill sets can belong to the same person. It should however never be assumed that because someone is a skilled manager that they are or will become a skilled leader. 

It should also never be assumed that because someone is a highly skilled and respected leader that they are automatically a skilled manager.  

Here’s why I believe that it is so important to understand that there is clear difference between these two skills sets: when both skill sets are not present within an organization then the growth of the organization is limited.  

Good organizations understand the difference between managing and leading. Growing organizations will not sacrifice one for the other. Great organizations work strategically to build both. 

Which kind of organization is yours? 

Managing is Not the Same as Leading

leadership-versus-managementHere is my simple concept on the difference between managing and leading: if you’re doing something for your business it’s managing, if you’re doing something for your people it’s leading.

That’s a pretty simple concept … in writing. The challenge for business the world over is that it’s not such a simple concept in practice.

In practice it gets kind of messy. Here’s a leadership fact for you to consider: it’s seldom the followers who make this mess, it’s almost always the person in the leadership position.

The follower “knows” if something benefits them or not and if their perception happens to be wrong that’s still not a follower mess, that’s just a different leadership mess.

Which brings us to one Marissa Mayer. Her leadership “style” is now being described as  unorthodox. That’s a pretty generous description. The reality is that it’s really not leadership in the truest sense of the word. It is a management style and not necessarily a good one at that.

It looks like she is at least a bit of a micro-manager, one who has yet to learn to trust her team. Early indications seem to be that she has a rather narrow view of the type of individual that can bring value to Yahoo. Then of course there is that whole “working from home” thing.

The working from home edict, or more accurately, working from the office only edict, is where things get messy. While it would be easy to describe it as a bold leadership move it not only isn’t bold, it isn’t leadership at all. It is a management decision that reflects the limited leadership currently at the helm. It is a decision that says the leader has very limited influence and one that admits the influence is so limited that it can only happen face-to-face. It is a decision that uses a hatchet rather than a scalpel to address an emotional subject. It is a management decision that imposes a view rather than a leadership decision that inspires a view.

It might even be an outstanding management decision but again, it isn’t leading. By all accounts Marissa Mayer is a very smart person, more than capable of managing even a company of Yahoo’s size and diversity. A person of her managerial skills should be able to slow the decline of the company and even provide several quarters of profitable results.

But….

Companies and organizations are managed to stability, they are led to growth. That’s why I believe the distinction between managing and leading is an important one.

Managing improves the company today, leading improves the company tomorrow and many more tomorrows after that. Managing improves the company’s processes and systems. Leading improves the company’s people. It’s the people who grow a company or organization, not processes and systems.

Every company needs both skilled managers and inspirational leaders. People in leadership positions can hold the false belief that they are one and the same. Authentic leaders know better. They know it’s possible to be both manager and leader but it’s not possible to use one set of skills to do it.

Time will tell if Marissa Mayer made a good management decision with the new work from the office policy. What history has already shown us is that it is a poor leadership decision.