Monday, January 31, 2011

Managers Need to Be Leaders, Not Managers.

One does not "manage" people. The task is to lead people.
–Peter Drucker

How many times have we seen comparisons between "management" and "leadership"? Warren Bennis, one of my favorite leadership authors, tells us that "management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing." But are "doings things right", and "doing the right thing" mutually exclusive? Can’t we have both? Of course we can. More importantly, we need both in order for our "service and knowledge" based economy to be successful. Research already shows organizations will flounder under management, but will thrive under leadership.

Many of the concepts of modern management were first created back during the Industrial Revolution, when we first developed industry and manufacturing and factories. Foremen were in charge of managing those factories, including the machines, equipment, resources, schedules, and the factory laborers. The foremen would soon find out that the factory workers did not like being managed as if they were machines, and so the workers resisted. The results were labor strikes and the creation of labor unions. Well that is no surprise. And it’s no surprise that unions still exist today.

It's now the year 2011, almost 200 years after the Industrial Revolution, and far too many managers still have an Industrial Revolution mentality in carrying out their duties. Yet our economy no longer depends on machines and manual labor for production. Service and knowledge is what our economy produces, with 80% of our Gross Domestic Product coming from people. Production comes from workers who provide services and expertise, as opposed to machines and factories. But our management mentality has not progressed with the times. Instead of adapting to a different economy, management behaviors reflect the thinking of the 19th century. We have not made the leap towards leadership.

Here are some simple realities:
Machines and operations are managed.
Projects and resources are managed.
Objectives and goals are managed.
Tasks and deadlines are managed.
Time is managed.
Finances are managed.
A business is managed.
Things are managed.
But people? People must be led.

Leadership is what we respond to. People do not want to be managed. This is especially so with the modern-day workforce. We are not wired to respond to management. People are far more complicated than a factory machine, and require much more maintenance. People have needs, as Abraham Maslow articulated way back in 1943. People need job satisfaction, challenge, belief in a mission and an opportunity to contribute to that mission. We want continuous training, development and mentoring. We want opportunity to grow and advance. We want to be inspired and motivated. We want to trust our manager and be led by them. Salary and benefits are secondary priorities to us. There are enough HR surveys that tell us the same thing. In these surveys, workers indicate that work environment and job satisfaction are just as important, if not more important, than salary.

Leaders recognize and develop other people’s abilities, and capitalize on those abilities. They ultimately inspire exceptional performance and results. Success, for any organization of any size, is tied to leadership, not management. Managers need to let go of their Industrial Revolution mentality, and start adopting the leadership attitude. Managers need to stop acting like managers and start leading people.

So are you managing people? Or are you leading people?

1 comment:

  1. The difference between a manager and leader is that managers tend to rely on established methods, processes to manage things. Equipment, tools or project are not complicated, hence you can follow the established logic. Managers tend to do the same with people. As you correctly mentioned, people are a complicated being, hence you need to be able to employ various styles and techniques in managing them. Some of this, may not be found in best selling leadership books.