Back in the middle of June I wrote this post. I had my own mental model of management & leadership in mind but I was particularly concerned with the forced separation, hierarchy and dominant narratives that I saw. I’m no stranger to talking about the differences between management and leadership yet I had some questions…
What is it about leadership that makes us think it is above management? Are the separation of terms and the forced split into disciplines actually a misnomer?
What makes us talk about management and leadership as two distinct “things”? Are the dominant narratives a convenient collusion perpetuating a “them & us” attitude?
Is what we call Management really a part of Leadership? What are the contextual differences between management and leadership – do they matter?
That initial post & invitation has led to a rich & diverse series of guest blog posts from twelve generous authors who have each added valuable perspectives. I’ve taken learning from each post through the perspective shared, the questions asked and the challenges given.
As readers, we’ve been encouraged to consider & give appreciation to the value of management, to the language that we use and to the development that we encourage and provide. The writing has illuminated some of the dominant narratives as well as suggesting some of the attitudes and values that might be more useful to all of us. I hope you’ve also enjoyed the series.
Leadership vs. Management
Looking back at those questions above that I wanted to explore, the guest posts have certainly added some clarity and to be honest I think they are questions I will keep developing to answers to. However, I think there are two related pieces of insight that have struck me most.
Firstly, the world we live in talks about and compares Leadership/leadership & Management/management as though they were two separate or even opposing/competing disciplines. There’s often a sense of organisational hierarchy at play. At best this creates simplistic polarities… at worst it creates an attitude of them versus us… We need to better appreciate how these are just the extremes of a descriptive model and not “The Model”.
When we look at what we need in our organisations, we need the right blends of capabilities in people and in teams, not just the simplistic extremes. We need to look at the
shades of grey array of colours that both leading & managing can rightfully include for both the organisations’ leaders & the organisations’ managers. We need to value leadership skills for Managers as much as management skills for Leaders.
Secondly, and thematically what has probably struck me most, is how our advocacy for management is so often lost in the popularism of Leadership. I just don’t believe that the treatment of Leadership as the “sexy” end of the spectrum serves organisations well if it’s to the detriment of organisational management. Perhaps it’s an unintended consequence of my first point above… perhaps it’s where there’s easy money to be made… I strongly suspect it’s a reality of Leadership/Management Development today that needs more attention paying to it by organisations to avoid being swept along by the biases of zeitgeist. Fundamentally…
Our learning about leadership can not be at the expense of our learning about management.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and reflections.
The Twelve Authors
My enormous thanks go to each of the guest bloggers for sharing their thinking and their experiences. It’s been a pleasure hosting your writing. If you’ve not already do so, then please do read their contributions to the series (links below).