I’ve written several times about the tired distinction between management and leadership. It had its logic and purpose, and made the point may times. But never quite catered for the real life.In real life, leaders have to manage a few things as well, and managers, perhaps by the way they do so, say, perhaps innovative, may be leading the way.
I prefer management as the practice of making sure that the pieces of the car work, the oil is in the engine and the drivers are trained. What happens, or needs to happen, or is about to happen, is perhaps inevitable. It is part of being alive as an organization. You need to take care of this, and do it to high standards. But the inevitability of daily life may cloud the collective thinking and imply that this is all there is. This is what I meant when the other day I wrote: Mondays shape Tuesdays.
Growth, differentiation, transformation, aspiration, perhaps reinvention, and certainly going to the next stage of complexity and possibilities, require to seek the unpredictable, the new frontiers, small font or big font Frontiers. And this is where leadership comes in.
I don’t have a philosophical problem with the dual hat management/leadership. After all, the duality would only be a reflection of our social persona. We do that all the time in the family, in the social arena, the civil society. I don’t see why business should be so fundamentalist, other than insisting on a semantic convenience and prolonging the inertia of the terms. If you can be a father, a husband and a friend without being labelled schizophrenic, I don’t know why we can all be Managers, Leaders, Followers and Fellows.
In the end, the fundamental question is: what do I need to manage in the inevitability of tomorrow, and how can I imagine a day after tomorrow that is not a simple extrapolation of today.