Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Charles de Gaulle: how did these historic figures know how to change the world? Audacity certainly contributed to their impact. But what role did each’s organizational and managerial abilities play in the profound changes they were able to bring about? How important was one quality relative to the other and what was the dynamic between the two concepts? Often, unfortunately, we mix up the notions of leadership and management. However it is by getting to the heart of the definitions of these distinct notions that we can master them.
LEADERSHIP VS MANAGEMENT
The Specific Art of Leadership
Vision, change, disruption: the calling card of a great leader is their ability to exert influence on matters and alter their course. To make their mark. Leadership is not the management of the status quo, but rather the art of redefining what’s possible, to articulate your vision and get your people to make the journey with you.
Steve Jobs revolutionized the world of IT with the personal computer, then cartoons with the computer animation and creativity of Pixar, before initiating a new, internet based IT revolution with the iPad, the cloud and iTunes. Gandhi freed India from the yoke of colonialism and inspired movements across the globe with his practice of non-violent resistance. As a member of the resistance who refused to accept defeat in 1940, but also as a statesman who instituted the Fifth Republic, De Gaulle was a disrupter.
Revolution is the mark of all great leaders and revolution can be defined as profound transformation. This sort of change does not take place overnight, following one speech or demonstration. How many years did it take de Gaulle to bring together resistance fighters and allied forces for the D-Day landings? How long did it take before the personal computer occupied pride of place in our homes and in our satchels?
Faced with innate skepticism, entrenched habits, paralyzing doubts, and false senses of certainty, one needs an almost innumerable set of personal qualities to combat the prevailing sense of inertia. The most important of these being that weapon, that friend, that precious strength – perseverance. Pure and absolute perseverance.
Because audacity is nothing without perseverance.
The Specific Art of Management
Management, organization, stability: the art of management is not simple. How to oversee continuity in an ever-changing world? How to keep things running smoothly when the path is full of traps and opposing forces – competitors, clients, newcomers – banding together to destabilize us, reduce our margins, demand ever more. The art of orchestrating continuity, overseeing serene progress, reaching our goals despite adversity, while bringing together people with diverse skills, motivations, and origins deserves the utmost respect. The great managers are rare, precious and highly sought-after.
A great manager is not a visionary, he has his two feet firmly in the present. He does not engage in singing revolutions, he is concerned with day-to-day progress. He leaves audacity to others but his efforts bear a rare fruit: serenity. His sense of organization and knack for stability provide something equally rare: harmony.
Striking a balance between the interests of the firm and those of the client, between the interests of the staff and those of the management is not at all easy. Forging links between the finance, marketing and HR departments, to name but a few, demands intellectual agility, analytical faculties a feel for creating syntheses. And great political nous. These are the ingredients for good management and for producing good management’s great byproduct: harmony.
LEADERSHIP + MANAGEMENT
The art of the manager is to orchestrate these two forces: continuity and disruption. Stability and movement. The reassuring pragmatism of the present and the tantalizing promise of the future.
The tension between these two concepts, leadership vs managementship, can be useful if it emphasizes the particular contributions of each skill.
The tension serves no purpose if it seeks to emphasize the importance of one to the detriment of the other. It is also pointless if there is a refusal to accept that the same person can use, to varying degrees, both ingredients.
He who wishes to change the world, and for that read change his company, must be skilled at management and leadership. His taste for disruption must be tempered by organizational principles, a respect for what is there to start with and a vision for the future. Vision without management is pie in the sky. However, vision allied to management can transform the world.
Change often brings fear and uncertainty. In business, clients and staff alike need to be reassured and be made understand the benefits of the future situation – in as much as those who are going to be brought along are, paradoxically, themselves the drivers and vehicles of change.
Change takes us out of our comfort zone. And we know that it is easier to maintain the status quo than to change course for another destination, other practices, another destiny. Two arguments make things tougher: for one thing, change can appear to be a criticism of the present order, the acquired, the hard won. For another, the vision can appear clouded, uncertain, distant, unlikely and if it is badly outlined, not understood well enough, it’ failure seems assured.
When a Manager Becomes a Manager-Leader
The manager must energize his teams: with resources, information, objectives and means. But he must also be a leader by adding his own intangibles such as his desire, personal ethics, and fighting spirit that boost the determination of everyone in his direct team. His team will also have the pleasure of making their own unique contribution to something bigger, greater and more noble.
The manager must become a manager-leader hybrid and relish the role. Although not responsible for the global vision or steering of the company, he is the sole director of the work in his theatre - in his team.
He is the only one who understands the dreams and doubts of his immediate co-workers as well as his clients and can, in word or deed, by values and vision, reach these goals.
When a Leader Becomes a Leader-Manager
Steve Jobs is a leader who perfectly illustrates this transformation. In the first chapter of his life, during which he gave birth to Apple and, with great fanfare, took it public, Jobs knew the ultimate corporate sanction: he was booted out of his own company.
The visionary leader who understood before everyone else the potential of computers, saw everyone turn on him, his shareholders, senior staff and ordinary employees. An abrasive figure, he was not a leader-manager.
An accomplished leader distills his various leadership and management skills into one potent strength. He must occupy three planes: the future, the present and the past. For the future he needs to have the foresight and intuition to predict, anticipate and understand the pieces already in place and how they can shape the future.
The present, where he doesn’t lose sight of the current expectations of peers workers or clients. Staying in the present, at a human or organizational level is to be willing to listen your people, their issues and burdens, their immediate aspirations in order to be in tune with current reality, their reality.
The past, which is the lodestone of the company, made up of common experiences, symbols of togetherness, shared victories and defeats both. The past provides a base of mutual trust, shared values, corporate pride. To ignore the value of the past would be reckless. To be a slave to it foolish. Embodying the past to build a bridge to the future, that’s the real trick.
LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT: A TWO-HEADED TEAM
There is an increasing realization that for any organization, success will only be achieved when leadership and management coexist at all echelons.
Leadership can no longer be the preserve of top management. It must be decentralized to all levels of an organization. Leadership ability must be acknowledges and encouraged wherever it is found, but also taught and deepened.
But success demands a subtle, almost imperceptible balance between managementship and leadership, at the highest level just as at every other level. It is efficient and harmonious, inspired and guided. The legions of teams that make up a great company, or a company that aspires to being great, are ready.
They are ready to do what no-one else has done before.
Author: Pierre Lorenceau
Translator: Simon McGeady
This article is taken from our monthly newsletter “Leaders Wisdom Journal”. To Subscribe.
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