I would like to begin by stating that I do not consider management to be poor and leadership to be good.
To be successful, we need both leadership and management. Leadership ensures that we do the right things, and management ensures that we do things right.
Managers ensure that we are efficient; they ensure that we do the things right, and great managers ensure we do the things right the first time.”.
However, if we are not doing the right thing, then we are not being effective.
There are both bad leaders as well as bad managers, and what we need is for both to be good because if we can do the right things, right the first time, then we will be highly effective.
I have worked in many companies where we were highly efficient, but not all were highly effective.
In one company where I worked, they were very proud because over 90% of all orders were delivered to the client within the agreed timeline. They asked me what I thought and whether I felt that was good or not, and I said, “I don’t know.” The manager in question said to me, “But 90% is always good performance.”
I said, “Okay, let me ask a question: of the 10% of orders that fail to be delivered in time, were they the most critical orders?”
The manager said, “I don’t know.” To which I replied, “Then I still don’t know if 90% is good, because if the most critical orders are in the 10% that are late, then maybe we have been focusing on the wrong things,” i.e. we have been efficient but not effective.
Shortly after, we did a detailed analysis, splitting the orders by criticality/priority and reviewing delivery rates for each group. What we found was that people were focusing on the orders they could deliver quickly and easily to hit the target of 90%, rather than the ones that were most important for the client.
We changed the reporting to report on the different categories and over the next few months what we saw was a drop in the overall delivery rate down to 85% delivered in time, but an increase in the most critical deliveries to 95%.
For me, this is the difference between leadership and management.
To give the management credit, though, after we saw the benefits of segmenting the deliveries by priority, we also segmented them by teams to see whether any teams were not performing at the standard that we were looking for. Taking this approach, we were able to highlight teams that needed assistance or further training, and what we saw was an overall increase of 95%.
Through both good leadership and good management, we became efficient and effective, which led us to being highly effective.
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