A look at leadership versus management

Leadership is a little different than management, writes business expert Paul Raggio, a distinction that has to do with motivation and consumption. (MC)

By Paul Raggio

Co-owner, One True North

The opening scene in this seven-time Academy Award-winning film is iconic: A lone figure, climbing stairs to a narrow stage with the United States Flag as a backdrop, addresses an unseen auditorium of his soldiers.

He wears a black helmet with four stars, one perched on top of three. Below the stars is a large, white, block letter A on a blue background, circled in red, representing the Third United States Army.

Gen. George C. Patton, in this scene that never took place, was addressing his troops before the Normandy invasion. A speech, never given, nonetheless accurately portrays how Patton would inspire his troops to victory against the Germans.

Hollywood took some liberties with history, but not in conveying the power of Patton’s leadership. Leadership … the ability to inspire others to perform extraordinary acts in accomplishing a shared goal most certainly is reflected in this scene from the 1970 American epic and a biographical movie on Patton.

Leadership versus management. I make this distinction because all too often, the terms are confused or interchanged when talking about teams. In the simplest terms, leaders inspire people to perform extraordinary acts in accomplishing a shared goal, whereas managers efficiently and effectively employ resources in undertaking collective tasks.

Why the distinction? It has to do with motivation and consumption. Leaders inspire … followers are motivated to act. Managers employ … resources are consumed to produce. 

Leaders deal with people. Managers deal with resources. Leaders may be called to manage, and similarly, managers may be called to lead. Both behaviors impact productivity. However, there is a distinct difference between the skills required to be competent in one or the other.

Essential to a leader’s success is for that person to act with good judgment and be character-driven, a visionary, and competent communicator when inspiring people. Competencies and critical skills that amplify these attributes and motivate followers reside in the individual’s Emotional Intelligence, otherwise known as EQ. Daniel Goleman, one of the leading experts on EQ, wrote in his January 2004 Harvard Business Review article “What Makes a Leader?” He states, “Without (EQ), a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

Goleman identifies five primary constructs where a leader can increase their competencies and skills, thus driving their leadership performance. First, self-awareness is the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, goals and recognize their impact on others. Second, self-regulation involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances. Third, social skill is managing relationships to get along with others. Fourth, empathy is considering other people’s feelings, especially when making decisions. Last, motivation is being aware of what triggers themselves and others to act.

On the other hand, essential to a manager’s success is recognizing efficiencies and effectiveness in the consumption of resources constrained by the company’s capacity, human capital, workflow, and processes.

Competencies and critical skills that amplify these attributes center on managers mastering five activities that impact cash flow and business sustainability: 

First, lead generation can target a specific market segment that will benefit from your product or service and generate enough interest on their part to buy.

Second, the conversion convinces an interested party to buy your product or service because it’s of value to them and will fulfill an immediate need.

Third, the dollar value of the product or service is set such that it produces the optimum number of buyers given the demand and cost of goods sold. 

Fourth, the number of transactions committed by a buyer represents their satisfaction with your product and services’ quality and delivery. 

Last, maximize profit margin by managing capacity, facility, supplies, workflow, and labor optimally.

Differentiating between the skills required to be an exceptional leader and an outstanding manager correlates to a company’s dynamic. When encountering challenges in your business, always assess whether the problem is rooted in the absence of leadership or management skills … people versus process. Making the correct diagnosis means treating the appropriate condition, thus increasing productivity and ultimately employee, customer and stakeholder satisfaction. This is how you scale a business.

You don’t have to be Patton leading the Third Army into battle to be an exceptional leader. However, you do need to understand the nuanced differences between leadership versus management. Leaders must master EQ and continuously hone the appropriate competencies and skills to inspire teams to achieve exceptional results. Managers must master employing and consuming resources in the output of your company’s products and services. Knowing the difference between cultivating leaders and managers is critical to the success of your business. This is how you lead, think, plan and act.

Now, let’s get after it!

Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.

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