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Achieving the Leader/Manager Balance

May 09 2018 - by Lois Parkes, CLP's Regional Project Manager

What exactly is the distinction between leadership and management? Diffen.com offers the following comparative definitions – “Leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group that they follow — i.e., a leader is the spearhead for that new direction. On the other hand, management controls or directs people/resources in a group according to principles or values that have already been established.”[i]

Put another way, management is concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of existing systems, sometimes using a more directive style and role authority in the process. On the other hand, leadership is concerned with identifying and bringing into existence new systems, products, services etc., and influencing and enabling others in the process.

In reality, the roles of leaders and managers are not separated. Undertaking leadership and managerial responsibilities is a juggling act, and a polarity that has to be balanced to achieve both operational efficiency and effectiveness and change that organisations require. If the truth is told, managerial demands often end up being the winner in what often seems to be the battle between these roles, as the urgent and now often takes precedence over future-focused strategic issues.

So how can a leader/manager adequately balance both roles? There is no magic bullet, however, here are a few suggestions/considerations:

  • Set specific targets that relate to strategic leadership issues. As the old adage goes, “What gets measured, gets done.” Having leadership-related outputs integrated into the performance management system is one way, not only to provide goal direction, but to measure progress. If the organisation does not have a robust performance management system, there is no reason why an individual leader cannot still develop their own work plan, that includes a focus on leadership issues, and not only on managerial tasks;
  • Determine what is truly important. Here is another relevant adage, “Nobody is too busy; it’s just a matter of priorities.” If strategic leadership issues are always being placed on the back burner of your agenda, the question that must be confronted is whether these issues are considered truly important. If they are important, then what must follow is a re-alignment of priorities.
  • Make the time. A common ability among effective leaders is to manage their time wisely. This requires focused attention on analysing how one’s time is truly spent; how much time is wasted in badly-managed meetings, not delegating effectively, not saying no when this is needed etc.? Then a determination has to be made on deliberately making time for roles and tasks identified at #2.                                              

As you reflect on this blog, you are invited to share:

  • What are some of the specific challenges that you face in balancing your roles as a leader/manager?
  • What strategies have you, or others around you, used to create the balance between leadership and managerial roles?

We also encourage you to register today for CLP's Leadership Symposium which will be held on June 28th & 29th in JamaicaClick here to secure your place before the May 18th deadline!

[i] https://www.diffen.com/difference/Leadership_vs_Management

 

 

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Levene Griffiths - Reply

The struggle between leadership/management within the organization is real but it is moreso a state of mind.  If you think you are a manager, you will seek to 'manage' and if you think you are a leader, you will 'lead'.

One thing for sure, you cannot truly 'manage' people, only resources. For peop;e to function effectivley, they require leadership.  If a leader understand his/her role, then the team is bound for success.

Every good leader understands that nurturing and developing (to their full potential) those who follow, is the ultimate goal.  When that is achieved, the organization's goals will also be met and little or no staffing issues will arise. In fact, I posit that when our organizations starts recognizing the value of leadership, there will less likely to be disengaged staff.  

 

 

Lois Parkes

Very insightful thoughts. Thanks for sharing