This is a guest post by D. Scott Smith. He is the CEO of Earth Fortification Supplies Company and a board member for Pajaggle, Inc. He also held the position of COO for Gibson Holders and logistics operation manager at Hewlett-Packard. He holds a bachelor of science in finance from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University Of Phoenix.
Are you a better Leader or Manager? Is one better than the other? You’ve heard, “manage processes, lead people” seems simple; yet defining a Manager is relatively simple, while defining a Leader is like putting words to emotion. If Management is prose, Leadership is Poetry. Much thought has been poured into the definitions; pounds of books have been written to define and develop Leaders. We need practical applications of the concepts to make our businesses and organizations better. Gleaning from the works of others we can compile practical and workable definitions.
The goal is to run solid organizations; Management and Leadership are tools to help us fulfill that goal. It is a natural conclusion that we need to understand the tools and how we (personally) use them. You might have strengths in one over the other; in that case you can develop your own ability to wield the tool, or if you have the resources – hire the skill. Conducting a personal evaluation requires the specific skills of Managers and Leaders be defined. The definitions provide a framework for us to gauge our relative abilities and determine where to find opportunities for improvement.
Plenty of books and websites are available which provide definitions of Management. Standard definitions of what it means to be a manager are clear and generally accepted. The four basic functions of Management: 1. Plan; 2. Lead; 3. Organize; and, 4. Control.
- Plan: Deciding what will be accomplished and how to measure results;
- Organize: Deploying resources to meet the plan;
- Lead: Implementing or executing to meet the plan, follow-up to ensure the goals will be met;
- Control: Monitoring progress of the actions, making adjustments to resource utilization, or the plan.
The definition of Leadership is elusive; business books do not have the functions simply and clearly defined. Many great minds have put thought into capturing qualities, traits, or actions of leaders; but not always practical. We need intentional Leadership. Dictionary definitions become circular, using the term to define the concept, sounding something like: a Leader is a person who Leads; or, Leadership is defined by position: the Leader is the one in front.
These explanations leave us wanting more substance, something we can identify and develop in ourselves to be more effective. We need clearly defined functions we can apply to our lives and businesses. Here are definitions which resonate with my experience:
Leadership is about articulating visions, embodying values, and creating the environment within which things can be accomplished. (Richards & Engle, 1986, Transforming Leadership)
Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations. (P.F. Drucker, 1955)
The capacity and will to rally people to a common purpose together with the character that inspires confidence and trust. (Field Marshall Montgomery)
The simple and practical functions of a Leader are: 1. Communicate Vision; 2. Inspire Greatness; 3. Build Trust; and, 4. Move to Action.
- Communicate Vision: It is not necessary for the Leader to create the Vision. This particular skill is the ability to reach out into the future, grab hold of the possibilities and bring them into the present; to let the team members understand their actions today make that imagined future possible by their work today;
- Inspire Greatness: The Leader is going to push, like a coach pushing an athlete to ever greater achievements. You have the responsibility guide people to do more than they thought they were capable of accomplishing;
- Build Trust: The responsibility does not end when trust is built between the Leader and the team; rather, when the culture of the organization fosters trust between all team members;
- Move to Action: This is your report card as a Leader. The final step is moving from a concept or idea to an action; if people are not Acting and Executing, you are simply an inspiring speaker. As our friends in the Angel Investment world note, they do not invest in ideas – without successful implementation the idea is worthless. Edison is often quoted on his formula for success, which is heavily weighted toward action (by 99 to 1 of Perspiration to Inspiration).
Are you a better Leader or Manager? Large organizations have the ability to hire for a specific skill or need; small companies rely on the multi-dexterity of the senior team (which may be a team of one as a solo-preneur). We also understand Leadership is not reserved for owners or executives – every person has a Leadership role at some point in their organizations.
Be intentional. You already create a process to manage your business, department, or other area of responsibility; you are intentional about Planning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling. We can also be Intentional Leaders at any level. Everyone has the opportunity to lead; being intentional about Communicating Vision, Inspiring Greatness, Building Trust, and Moving People to Action will help you be an effective Leader.
© D. Scott Smith 2011