Sunday, February 2, 2014

Do you manage or lead?

Do you manage or lead?

Last week, while standing on the checkout line at Whole Foods, I heard an announcement over the P.A. system that made me pause: “Would someone in leadership please come to the customer service desk.”  This statement got me thinking about the difference between leadership and management.

While researching this subject, I discovered a Harvard Business Review blog (published August 2, 2013) by Vineet Nayar.  As vice chairman of HCL Technologies, an India-based global IT services company, Nayar suggests there are three differences between managers and leaders.  How he describes these differences resonated with me.  The following is quoted directly from his post:

“Counting value vs. creating value. You’re probably counting value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Only managers count value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value. If a diamond cutter is asked to report every 15 minutes how many stones he has cut, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting value.

By contrast, leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle A while I deal with B.” He or she generates value over and above that which the team creates, and is as much a value-creator as his or her followers are. Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership.

Circles of influence vs. Circles of power. Just as managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence.

The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.

Leading people vs. Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.

I encouraged my colleague to put this theory to the test by inviting his teammates for chats. When they stop discussing the tasks at hand — and talk about vision, purpose, and aspirations instead, that’s when you will know you have become a leader.”

Clearly, leadership is much more than a simple management style.  Great leaders nourish their successors. And, as firms develop their succession plans, it is increasingly more important to attract, develop and retain high-potential leaders in the organization.  The next generation of leadership becomes the focus of all stakeholders in the firm.  

How would your career or mine have evolved differently if we had been exposed to extraordinary leadership skills vs. basic management techniques? 

Here are some leadership perspectives from a blog by Marie Peeler of Peeler Associates, which are poignant to this discussion:
  • “Managers develop policies and procedures.  Leaders develop vision and strategy.
  • Managers direct and control.  Leaders motivate and inspire.  Stated another way, managers get people to do what needs to be done. Leaders get people to want to do what needs to be done (read that again if you need to; the distinction is subtle.)
  • Managers explain, “What we have to do.”  Leaders explain, “Where we are going.”
  • Managers give directions.  Leaders ask questions.
  • Managers are concerned with the here and now.  Leaders are concerned with the long-view.
  • Managers are bottom-line oriented.  Leaders are big-picture oriented.
  • Managers are concerned with projects.  Leaders are concerned with people.”

After absorbing the writing of both Nayar and Peeler, I thought more about my own career; were the people I reported to managers or leaders??  I also reflected on my own style and wondered how I was seen by those I supervised.

What about you?  When you look in the mirror do you see a manager or a leader?  And would you like to make any adjustments to your own style?  No time like the present


Evelyn Dube has joined Forum Partners as Managing Director, Capital Markets, Global Business Development

James O'Neill now Head of International Distribution, Legal and  General Property 

Neil Golub joined BCGI Real Estate Executive Search and is opening an office in New York City.

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