Leadership and Management: Is there a difference?

14052503651During my time in the military, I was fortunate to have attended Airman Leadership School. This school would change my life and leadership practices forever. Before attending this school, I’d often been placed in positions of leadership, but I lacked the understanding of what it meant to be a good leader. I thought that being a leader simply meant guiding people through a process and making sure that things were done in a timely manner.

This is a flaw often found with those placed in leadership positions. You understand well the process of how something should work and posses the ability to get it done. While these abilities can make you a good manager, it can be rendered useless if you depend on others working under your leadership. To be clear, management is about process; leadership is about people. How good are you at relating to people?

Not understanding the difference between management and leadership is why many placed in leadership are doomed to fail. I like to say, “Take care of the people and the people will take care of the process.” More often than not, most leaders are consumed with process rather than the people. Sure you want to make sure that people are trained to perform their duties, but the training is mostly null and void if you don’t possess the ability to inspire people to get things done.

People will typically follow your leadership for one of two reasons. One reason is because they fear you and the other is because they love you. If they fear you, they will do just enough to keep from pissing you off. However, if they love you, they will often go above and beyond to make sure that you’re pleased with their work. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “This is a bit too mushy for me.” I promise you; changing the way that you view leadership will have a direct effect on how well your team executes assignments.

Because this is a blog and not an in depth leadership training, I want to leave you with three quick tips on how you can start turning things around as a leader:

1. Show that you care: If you don’t care about people, none of this will make a difference. In order to be a good leader, it’s imperative that you care. If you care, you’ll be able to relate and see the individuals under your leadership as people and not just a number in your inventory. Pay attention, ask how they are doing and then actually listen. If they express discontentment, don’t blow it off. See if there is something that you can do to help. This opens the door to open communication and an opportunity to establish trust.

2. Build them up: If someone is busting their tail to do a good job, acknowledge it! It doesn’t have to be a public spectacle or award ceremony that singles them out in front of their peers. This can be as simple as saying, “I appreciate the hard work and dedication that you put into this project. It really made a difference.” You’ll be amazed at how effective such a statement can be towards inspiring future performance.

3. Everyone matters: Regardless to who they are or what they’re doing, everyone wants to feel that his or her contributions to the organization are valuable. If you make people feel any different, you will alienate them. If they feel alienated they will feel unmotivated. This will result in a decline in work ethic and possibly loss of retention. Whenever possible, try to involve them in decision making. This isn’t always convenient, but it does make a difference.

These are just a few pointers that I’ve taught in leadership classes in the past. I hope that this information has helped you obtain a better understanding of leadership. I close with the words of Grace Murray Hopper, “You manage things; you lead people.”

by: Eric L. Lipsey