Managing Things or Leading People?

Managing Things or Leading People?

 Thursday, 7th July 2016

Leadership today comes with many diversions, most of which tend to drift away from leadership itself. To the point where today’s leaders find themselves doing so many things as leaders, except leading itself.

Leaders often find themselves bogged down with administrative demands, so that problem solving and firefighting take up the majority of their time and attention.

Tasks have to be completed and effective processes put in place. These details are at the core of good management; yet often, the important role of leading people in the organisation is sacrificed for managing it and in time, leaders begin managing things more than leading people. This trend of moving away from people and other leadership priorities is a costly mistake.

Whilst every business must be managed well, and an organisation’s success will in fact be undermined without good management, this should not take place at the expense of leading. Rather, leaders must assign management its proper place.

Unfortunately, many organisations today are over-managed and under-led.This is true for two main reasons: Firstly, many people mistakenly equate management with leadership. They haven’t learned the core beliefs and behaviours of leadership that distinguish it from management. Secondly, it’s actually easier to manage things than to lead people. Creating programs, maintaining processes and establishing policies—none of these are nearly as messy and challenging as the stuff of leadership, which includes modelling character, empowering people,  inspiring them with vision, building community, and developing people to their full potential.

Management aims to bring stability and predictability to an organisation through administrative systems and regulations. Many people welcome such bureaucracy because it provides a sense of control and consistency and thus reduces anxiety. Leadership, on the other hand, challenges the status quo. It is disruptive in nature because it often provokes change, this may cause tension and ambiguity. Management is mostly a present-tense orientation and asks, “What can be done now to ensure a well-functioning?” Leadership has a future orientation: it envisions an ideal future and moves people toward it.

Unlike management, leadership is not concerned about the efficiency of an organisation as much as its bottom-line effectiveness. Instead of asking, “How are we doing what we are doing?” (a concern for the way things are done), leadership inherently asks, “Why are we doing what we are doing?” (a concern for the purpose behind the actions). Leadership is focused upon people, with the outcome being their transformation. Management focuses on people too, but it does so from the standpoint of how they function in the. Leadership points people toward people. Management tends to focus people upon processes. Managers can view an organisation as a functioning machine. Leaders view it as a living organism. In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

MANAGEMENT: Things, process, policy, Efficiency, Maintenance, Control, Stability, Human Resources, Asks: How?

LEADERSHIP: People, Effectiveness, Mission,Empowerment, Change,Human Change, Asks:Why?             

Despite the marked differences between them, management and leadership are not mutually exclusive. To be a good leader, one must manage to a degree; and to be a good manager, one must be capable of leading.

When taken to their extremes, however, it is easy to see how management may rob a leader from actually leading—that is, management tends to defy leadership. Therefore, with all due respect to managers, leaders must be the ones who actually direct an organisation and ultimately decide its priorities. If not, the proverbial tail will wag the proverbial dog. The way things are done becomes more important than the why of doing them. Leaders point people and resources toward what moves the organisation forward to achieve its mission, not necessarily toward what maintains it as it currently exists.

Organisations without leadership experience a subtle spiral of slow death. Bureaucracies feed upon themselves, becoming more encroaching and entrenched. Policies tend to over-police (notice the similarity in words), and there are never enough processes in place to satisfy those who must have control. Sadly, the energies and attention that should focus people toward growth and advancement are spent instead on matters of management. In the end, we may have the tidiest, most well-managed ship at the bottom of the sea.

Our CMI Level 7 Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership presents a broad knowledge of effective management skills while focusing on great leadership.

Designed for senior managers and directors, our CMI Level 7 programme has been created for leaders to aid strategic thinking and inspire their teams and those who are ready to develop to the next level.

“I considered myself to be somewhat accomplished and seasoned as a leader and manager. I did not expect to learn many new tricks. I was wrong. From the outset the program provided not only space and time to think away from the day job but the cross section of other Executives and the ensuing discussions and debates were very powerful.  Crucially, there was time to explore concepts and emergent theories without the nagging sense that other elements of the course would have to be foreshortened as a result of our collective discussions In short, I am much better personally and professionally for the experience and I thoroughly endorse it. “Phil Haslam Chief Executive Officer Eastern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority

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Contact or call 01379 647808



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