October Fest #16 Lead or Manage?

It took me a long time to decipher the difference between management and leadership. But they are two completely different animals. It’s quite important to note that if you are a leader the people you lead need to be both lead and managed. But if you confuse these two you might spend a lot of time fixing things that are not broken.

When Bob comes to work he has a list of things to do. This will include going to meetings, completing reports, communicating with clients and negotiating with stakeholders in other areas of the business. Bob has a bass. When Bob doesn’t get his work done his boss has demonstrated bad management over Bob. And while Bob might have all the excuses lined up his boss is ultimately responsible for what comes out of bobs desk. There is no way around it. And if Bob is badly managed what comes out of his desk will be very variable.

On a different note if Bob is badly lead, fixing this problem will be nearly impossible.

Good management means that you can distill things down into systems and checklists. Ultimately, any job that any person does Canby automated into a checklist and potentially a computer program. People will defend this by making what they do sound very complicated but at the end of the day it isn’t. A good leader will create very clear step-by-step process for every job that reports to them with very little of the human emotional factor involved in it. When emotion creeps into management, it becomes a nightmare of unpredictability. And unpredictability is the opposite.

As always it is easiest to draw parallels from the natural world. Within the DNA of the seed of a tree there is a formula that will multiplier that cells millions of times and grow the tree step-by-step. Anything that disrupts this multiple process will cause the tree to struggle to grow. It is an automatic process and it is a step-by-step process that requires nourishment and repetition. For now will describe this as management. However, from the moment that seed starts to grow it has a mission. That seed must grow toward the sun where ever that sun is in direction. If the seed fell on the west side of the hill it will still grow toward the su even if it was planted by accident in a shady place, it will find a way to get around it. While the tree grows towards the sun the roots automatically counterbalance that grows and determined which direction to spread in order to both get water and balance the pressure on the tree from the wind and the branches. Let’s, for now call this leadership.

Can become very confusing. But it’s very important to explore this topic. Managing people is really easy. Leading people is very hard. To manage somebody you either need authority, fear, threat or something that this person wants from you. And example might be a boss who threatens people with dismissal if they don’t do what they’re told. That’s cool management and therefore you can see in most business situations some form of management going on but being called leadership. It is absolutely not leadership it is a threat.

Simple truth of the matter is that you can’t lead people who are not well managed. So management and leader must go hand in hand. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the same person is the manager and the same person is the leader. That is a big mistake. A good leader will employ good managers. And now we come to the complicated part of all this conversation. As you know there is a hierarchy of consciousness. We’ve talked about that many times in discussing the state of mind of people from got to all the way up to love to at work. And so when a person is in a got to ora should place at work, they cannot be lead they must be managed. That’s where the motto comes from coach them up or coach them out. We coach people up so that they can be lead. But until then they can only be managed.

Let me give you a perfect example. Four entrepreneurs came to Nepal for a trek with me. They were very clever people and had significant resources, wealth, and therefore expected the best. We started the trek after a few days in Kathmandu and in that time they ask me 1000 questions about the road and the path and mountains where we were going and by the time we flew into the mountains to start the program, they knew just about as much as I did about the predictability of the trip. At this point my leadership was gazumped. They knew where they were going they didn’t need me any more, we had Sherpa to help them and unless the weather changed they took control of their own trip. All that was left was for me to manage them. Manage meaning, organise their breakfast, get their shoes cleaned, check their acclimatisation, make sure the porters were carrying the gear, and order lunch. All of which, I had stuff to do. No you would think that this would be an opportunity for me to celebrate the brilliance of my leadership but what a dead it made me feel unnecessary. And I found myself plotting to change the route or the timing so that some of the information they had became vague and confusing and I would get my leadership role back. Now that’s pretty ridiculous when you think that I was given an opportunity to lead from behind. My ego was about the size of Mount Everest and came down to about the size of a peanut during the course of this experience. Lucky I found myself in this position and recognised it and backed off and simply walked and enjoyed a highly paid easy trip where my leadership was perfect. Nobody complained that I was not leading the group in fact this group of entrepreneurs would have complained if I tried to leave them from the front. What I did I created a clear path to the future, a process to get them to the summit which is all they wanted on this trip and of course made it safe. Once that was done all was left was to manage them and make them comfortable etc. Now we do know that the person who can implement Plan B the fastest is the best leader. So, even though I was leading from behind they would’ve turned around and asked me for help had the weather snowed in or something taken place that was on predicted. Given that I have walked these mountains nearly 50 times it would be obvious that I would have the experience to be the leader if something went wrong. It didn’t, they had a great trip, and I didn’t have to do much. Which is pretty good leadership I think.

Big Difference between leadership and management. End of this episode.

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