Are You Leading or Managing?

Leading or Managing

Leadership and Management are two completely different, although related, activities; and many people who want to be leaders, and think they are leaders, are actually just managing.

Leadership is a forward looking activity, whereas Management is a backward looking activity.

Management is about, did we do the thing right, have we completed the tasks on schedule, are we making the right progress. It’s a tough job, and it requires a lot of effort.

It’s so tough in fact that we can become bogged down in it, and stop leading altogether, which then requires us to manage even more.

If we want to become great leaders, then we need to reduce the amount of management we do.

How do we do this?

Well it’s not by just doing less management, its by actually doing more leadership!

The better we lead, then the less we have to manage.

Leadership is fairly simple really, it’s all about

  • setting direction
  • inspiring our teams
  • providing reward and recognition for the progress made

If we can do those three things well then our teams will become self sufficient, they won’t need us to be constantly stood behind them badgering them and cajoling them along to get tasks completed.

Once we get to this state then we can focus more on forward looking activities, and more leading our teams.

If you’re stuck in management hell, and not able to find the time to lead, try and step back and see what the problem is. See what you can do to move from managing to leading.

It might not be something you can do to make a the complete change, but there will be some things that you can do that will move you in that direction. Then you need to keep your focus on moving to leading, day by day, until you are in a position to let go of the management tasks and can just lead.

It might be that you bring in someone to do the management for you, or delegate this task, but you have to free up some time to lead.

If we can never plan for tomorrow, then we will always be struggling today!

Seeing and understanding this is one of the first steps to becoming a great leader.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles