Part 2: Is It Time For Management…Or Leadership?

A few weeks ago, I threw out a couple of my favorite business questions, as a little food for thought:

“Leadership and management: what’s the difference, and why does it matter?”

Tons of books have been written on both leadership AND management, so rather than write another one, I gave you some scenarios and asked a simple question: does this task call more for leadership, or management?

Well, here are those ten tasks along with some of my thoughts, and, as you’ll see, there’s not always a clear-cut answer…

  • Implement a new business process designed to reverse sinking revenues.
    Usually, process implementation will call more for management There’s obviously upper-level vision required, but most of that vision deals with how the pieces will fit together, and work toward the desired result. I’d give this one an “M.”
  • Inspire a team that, while capable, has been under-performing.
    Conversely, many tasks that begin with the verb “inspire” call for leadership. Coaching and motivating are critical tools in the manager’s tool kit, but they’re too often neglected in the face of relentless deadlines and split-second decision-making. Mastering them is a hallmark of a successful leader.

  • Facilitate the adoption of a new corporate brand.
    Creation of a new brand involves a whole host of variables, and is far from a cut-and-dried process. Leadership skills usually provide the high-level perspective needed to effectively see the big picture. But once that big decision has been made, management skills are needed to carryout the many details that will need to be attended to.

  • Respond strategically to changes made by your main competitor.
    Competition in modern business is a never-ending series of punching and counter-punching, and it can be a huge challenge for large organizations to maintain the agility needed to respond quickly and effectively to changes in the marketplace. Leadership skills are needed to assess “what” needs to be done, while the “how” usually falls to management.
  • Address the widespread violation of a certain company policy.
    Crisis management is an extremely important aspect of organizational success. When a crisis comes from within, the first need is to steady the ship and keep things afloat, while responses and solutions are developed….and that calls for leadership.

  • Conduct an internal assessment of the success of a new initiative.
    When it comes to high-level decision-making and accurate evaluation of the performance of a new product or direction, unbiased, data-driven decisions are needed. If good management skills were used in developing and implementing the initiative, there should be methods of evaluation in place to help determine the next steps.

  • Direct participation in a long-term visioning project.
    In long-term visioning, leadership is needed, first and foremost. To stimulate and inspire participation, innovative thinking, and creative solutions, leaders need to take center-stage and get the input critical to ensuring that the enterprise remains viable well into the future.

  • Explore the causes of failure of a new product roll-out.
    Why didn’t it work? Usually, everyone will always have his or her answer, but it’s a management function to piece together clues and gather the forensic evidence to determine not only why, but the steps to take in the future to keep it from happening again.

  • Assess the stability of the organization and its long-term sustainability.
    Once again, management tools are needed above all else to honestly assess the stability of the organization. If you’re getting ready to take a cross-country road trip, it may be a leadership function to decide where to go—but management needs to make sure there’s gas in the tank and air in the tires!

  • Solicit feedback as to new sales strategies for the coming quarter.

Measuring feedback and integrating it into the business process is clearly a management task. But when it comes to soliciting that feedback, more tools from the leadership basket come into play, to stimulate the creative thinking necessary to take things to the next level.

Well, that’s MY perspective—I’d love to hear yours!

And remember, whether you’re leading OR managing….