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Leadership versus management


I get the feeling that in the constant struggle between leadership and management, leadership is getting the upper hand. The conflict arises because the failure of highly trained and presumably intelligent managers is attributed to poor leadership (look at General Motors now), while failure of dynamic leaders is attributed to their lack of interest in and application of the lessons of good business management.

I’ve always thought this a false and dangerous dichotomy. Look out for a neat CBI Business Guide, sponsored by personnel specialists Harvey Nash, called ‘The Power of Leadership’. As I wrote in this slim volume, ‘Leadership is hard to define, elusive to grasp. It’s like being in love; you just know when you’ve got it – and when you haven’t. It isn’t simply management, but without good leadership, managers must flounder. They have to know “who’s in charge here”. Just as important, they must know where the leader is leading.’

But it’s also obviously and vitally important that the leaders should be moving towards the right destination. It’s the role of management to identify, measure and analyse the objectives and opportunities of the organisation; to select the best targets; to put together the resources (human and otherwise) required to meet those objectives; to monitor operations to ensure that they are achieving LIMO – meaning least input for most output – and to modify the plans, maybe radically, when reality forces change.

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