I’ve been doing some reading on leadership for a workshop I’m putting together and came across an interesting comparison of leadership and management from the great Jack Welch. He says:
Managers – deal with status quo Leaders – deal with change
Managers – work in the system Leaders – work on the system
Managers – react Leaders – create opportunities
Managers – control risks Leaders – seek opportunities
Managers – enforce organisational rules Leaders – change organisational rules
Managers – seek and follow direction Leaders – provide a vision to believe in and strategic alignment
Managers – control people Leaders – motivate people
Managers – coordinate effort Leaders – inspire achievement
Managers – provide instruction Leaders – coach and empower
So here’s what struck me about this list. All of the management activities are left brain detail oriented activities and all of the leadership ones are right brain big picture activities. Being left or right brained is a bit like being left or right handed – its really hard to change our natural way of thinking.
Given that for most people the route to leadership is through management, is it any wonder great leaders are so thin on the ground? Most of the truly great leaders will fall by the wayside because they are likely to be terrible managers! And most of the really great managers will be such control freaks once they get into leadership positions that they will stress and burn out before they get a chance to achieve anything. And the thing is – both of them are really vital to the smooth running of an organisation.
And most people, once they get into leadership positions, are going to have to totally rethink the way they think. And that’s really not easy! Time for Business As Unusual again!