28 Aug Infuse Leadership into Management Roles to Drive Business
The leadership vs management debate has dominated boardroom meetings in recent years. Companies increasingly focus on pushing management teams to acquire leadership capabilities in their own distinct organizational tasks. But most managers are not leaders. They are not developed as leaders. They are not encouraged to be leaders. Often leaders are promoted into a management positions to develop task forces as autonomous units with managers capable of making the decisions on their own, optimizing resource utilization and maximizing workforce potential to enhance strategic business advantages. The problem for the business organizations is simple – managers can be trained to be managers, but they must be developed into leaders. Although leadership is associated with pushing the company up the ladder, managers are ultimately in charge of enforcing business plans within their teams and ensuring best possible outcomes. While both roles are crucial and important in their own regard, developing strong leadership capabilities in managers is critical for long-term business success.
The primary difference between leaders and managers centers around focus: leaders focus on the workforce as individuals and collective teams alike, whereas managers are primarily focused on business systems. Managers are responsible for distributing and utilizing resources to deliver a standard product or service within agreed thresholds, including budget and schedule. They develop processes and policies within their area of responsibility and enforce those among their employees. However, they may not have the trust or respect from their employees, their peers or even their reporting lines. Leaders influence and encourage changes within their workforce to achieve business success. Good leaders tend to have the ability to bring out the best in everyone, while rewarding everyone with their fair share of credit for the success achieved. While leaders can work the system, they also understand how the system truly impacts the bottom line of the company and not limited to their own area of responsibility. They are more likely to work with vendors and customers to understand how to improve the system and obtain a better product or service. As a result, everyone benefits around a leader.
One area where most companies fail in developing leaders is risk management. Managers are traditionally responsible of containing risks whereas leaders aim to engage risk as their competitive strength. When organizations seek to innovative and set market trends, they must encourage their managers to take risks within the allowed boundaries instead of playing safe all the time. However, managers must also understand risks and implications associated with every action or inaction to the business bottom line. But at the end of the day, leaders are inherently encouraged to take chances, create change and motivate people to move up the next step toward success. Encouraging a similar mindset among management professionals ensures the leadership philosophy travels all the way from the boardroom through to front end employees.
Managers create departments, while leaders create teams. This is an important distinction because by creating departments, managers departmentalize the work in order to establish controls to ensure the desired output. In the end, the managers are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the department. With teams, though, every person is working together to attain a desired, or better, output. If successful, everyone shares in the credit because everyone shared in the responsibility; however, the leader will typically take responsibility when the team fails. Managers are excellent at enforcing conformance: leaders seek to break conformity. Many of the greatest advances in our society and for leading companies have occurred because someone had the courage to operate outside the known box and seek new opportunities.
While management is an important function of a company, leadership will always be a highly regarded commodity in business. Most companies do realize they have many managers, but few leaders. For companies seeking to maintain the status quo, they should stick with hiring and training managers: but those companies looking to grow and expand must learn to find and develop their leaders.