Are Your Leaders Leading or Managing?

Are Your Leaders Leading or Managing?

Rob Hartnett 25/02/2018 8

Today we are seeing change at a pace not seen before. Many new leaders are being appointed and thrown in the deep end and its literally sink of swim. Some sales leaders I have seen are given a quarter to make their numbers or its into the next person. It's not healthly, but it's often reality. When I see this behaviour I know it's not the new leader where the work needs to happen but the leader of leaders.

Many so called leaders and even leader of leaders are not leaders and often confuse the roles of leadership and management. Both are vital to business success but they are very different in approach. My experience has been an abundance of KPI driven, tick the box managers and a vacuum of true leadership in the business world today. Yes compliance and regulations have driven some of this cadence but it should not come at the expense of true, inspirational leadership. Why is this given we have a more educated, sophisticated and intelligent workforce?

The actual size of this leadership issue hit me only recently when a banking leader said to me "Rob, how many really good leaders have you had in your career". I said many, I worked for some fabulous inspiring leaders at my times at KPMG, Apple and HP for a start. My answer left him somewhat perplexed. He said that his experience was not as rich as mine with leaders and especially leaders in todays banking world.

His view was that there was such a lack of leadership that he could not rely upon the so called leaders coaching best practice during customer engagements or in the office that he was forced to provide the best practice via online means. Leadership guru and my mentor John Maxwell says, "a leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way" through their everyday actions and values. While I am a big supporter of online learning, I honestly believe that there is no substitute for learning on the tools as it were from a seasoned experienced leader.

Can you imagine an AFL or NRL player been only exposed to Playstation and never getting to play for true leaders such as a Cameron Smith, Jonathan Thurstons, Adam Goodes or Jobe Watson. So yes leadership can be taught, it has to be taught and we must find a way to build more leadership talent.

Everyone in some way in their life is a leader, you certainly don't need a business cars, Linkedin title or corner office to be a leader, in fact its often the opposite. I believe we should start teaching leadership principles such as respect, diversity, communication and coaching skills early in peoples careers and frankly even at a post grad level. I will John Maxwell have the final word as he often does. He states quite correctly that "If you are leading from the front but no one if following you are merely taking a walk by your self".

The role of leadership should be to set the "LAD". That is L is for Leadership. The Leaders set vision, the why before the what. The A is for Ability. Leaders need to ensure their people have the ability to execute on the strategy. D is for Discipline. Leaders need to finally ensure management practices are in place to ensure the vision is delivered.

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  • Tayyab Khan

    A leader can inspire change but somewhere down the line you will require a manager to make sure those changes are actually happening and that they are sustainable.

  • Franc Pinto

    Excellent take on leading Vs managing

  • Steve Moses

    I am very new to the management industry. This post was very helpful and beginner friendly.

  • Shane Danielson

    I think both have their place for a functioning world 

  • Esther Weaver

    Managers do all of these things as well. The distinction between managers and leaders is often hyped up and reflects a stereotypical bifurcation rather than a qualitatively distinct reality. In truth, many leaders need to manage operations and many managers need to inspire people.

  • Irma McClaurin

    Some good thoughts on leadership.

  • Anthony Garcia

    You cannot be taught to be a leader you are born a leader.

  • Faisal Masood

    Excellent explanation that distinguishes between a real manager and leader.

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Rob Hartnett

Management Expert

Rob is an Advisory Partner at Global Sales Performance Company Miller Heiman Group. He is a seven times Global Presidents Club Winner. He is the author of three books on Business Growth and has appeared on a number of TV, Radio and Media channels on the subject of top line business performance. Rob is a former world & state champion yachtsman, a passionate cyclist, motorsport follower and an advocate for Men's Health. Rob holds a Bachelor of Business and a Post Graduate in Applied Finance & Investment from RMIT University and the Securities Institute of Australia and is a certified coach in Leadership with the John Maxwell Team.

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