What is the difference between Leadership and Management – there is definitely some overlap, but the key distinction lies in … wait, you thought I was going to tell you in the opening? It’s going to take some time to talk through those distinctions before we get there …Welcome to EP 136: Leadership vs. Management
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Today we are talking about the nuanced distinction between leadership and management. In the circles I travel in, these terms are often used interchangeably, yet they encompass distinctive sets of skills, values, and priorities. We set today’s topic up for discussion during episode 134: Management 101 when attempting to answer the question “Do you have any pointers for architects who are transitioning into management roles.” I felt that we needed to clarify the difference between management and leadership to focus our conversation but recognized that there was a lot to unpack and discuss not only what sets leadership and management apart but also how their collaboration can propel an organization to the success they no doubt aim to achieve.
Since I like to do a little research and preparation for each show, I went back into the Life of an Architect archives to see what I had written or discussed in the past where Leadership and Management were concerned.
August 2013 – Leadership versus Management – the first time I pointedly thought on this subject.
July 2014 – Leadership – I was one of three people who presented a day-long symposium on the topic and where most of my initial research was started.
March 2017 – Attitude Reflects Leadership – anecdotal observation of how your behavior matters and how it impacts and influences others.
July 2020 – Ep 054: Leadership – had my sister on the show because she’s quite literally the most qualified person I’ve ever met to discuss what it means to be a leader (possibly read some of the topics/questions we covered)
September 2023 – Ep 134 Management 101 – discussing what it means to transition into management and how that is different from simply being good at your previous job.
In the very first post, I ended with a quote I found, and it has unintentionally become the foundation upon which most of my thoughts on leadership have been built. It was a quote from Margaret Thatcher, and I found it when researching a new role that I was transitioning into. It is:
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
If you have to tell people you’re the leader, you aren’t. “Leadership” and “Management” are inextricably linked to one another, but management is a role you are hired into while leadership is thrust upon you by others.
I went back through all of these remarkably insightful posts and episodes to organize today’s conversation into 5 Key areas of distinction where there overlap but the approach to the process of solution is different based on management or leadership.
Vision and Strategy jump to 12:54
Management Focus: Managers focus on planning and executing strategies. They develop detailed plans, set targets, and ensure resources are allocated efficiently to meet objectives.
Leadership Focus: Leaders are visionary. They set the direction for the organization, articulate a compelling vision, and inspire others to share in that vision. They guide the development of a long-term strategy.
Advice: While managers implement strategies, leaders create the vision that drives those strategies. Both are essential for success; a well-executed strategy without a clear vision can lead to short-term gains but may lack sustainability.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker
Reference to quote selection: I chose this quote because it emphasizes the distinction between the efficiency of management and the effectiveness of leadership. It underscores the importance of balancing the two for overall success.
Focus on Tasks vs. People jump to 16:21
Management Focus: Managers focus on tasks and processes. They ensure that the necessary steps are taken to achieve organizational goals and that operations run smoothly.
Leadership Focus: Leaders focus on people. They inspire and motivate individuals, fostering a collaborative and innovative culture. Leaders understand that success ultimately comes from the collective efforts of the team.
Advice: Effective leaders understand that people are not just resources; they are the driving force behind any successful organization. Managers ensure tasks are completed; leaders ensure people are engaged and motivated to perform at their best.
“Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” – Tom Peters
Reference to quote selection: I used this quote because it captures the contrasting difference between the organizational aspect of management with the people-centric nature of leadership.
Risk Management vs. Risk-Taking jump to 28:41
Management Focus: Managers are risk-averse and focus on minimizing uncertainties. They implement processes and controls to ensure stability and predictability in operations.
Leadership Focus: Leaders embrace calculated risks. They encourage innovation and understand that growth often involves stepping into the unknown. Leaders inspire a culture where failures are seen as learning opportunities.
Advice: A balance between risk management and risk-taking is crucial. Too much focus on stability can hinder growth, while reckless risk-taking can lead to instability. Effective leaders find the middle ground.
“Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek
Reference to quote selection: I selected this quote because it emphasizes that true leadership involves taking responsibility for the well-being of the team, even if it means taking risks for their benefit.
Adaptability and Change jump to 32:53
Management Focus: Managers seek to maintain stability and consistency. They implement processes that ensure a steady course of action and are often resistant to rapid changes.
Leadership Focus: Leaders embrace change. They understand the need for adaptation in a dynamic environment and inspire a culture that is open to innovation and continuous improvement.
Advice: In today’s fast-paced business environment, adaptability is a key competitive advantage. While management provides stability, leadership ensures the organization remains agile and responsive to change.
“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus Ancient Greek Philosopher
Reference to quote selection: I used this quote because it underscores the inevitability of change. Effective leaders not only accept this reality but also lead their teams through it.
Communication Style jump to 42:21
Management Focus: Managers communicate to convey instructions and ensure tasks are carried out. Communication is often formal and transactional.
Leadership Focus: Leaders communicate to inspire and align. They emphasize the why behind actions, fostering a sense of purpose and shared values among team members.
Advice: Effective communication is a cornerstone of leadership. It’s not just about what is said but also about how it’s said and how well it resonates with the team.
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter Drucker
Reference to quote selection: This quote highlights the importance of understanding the subtleties in communication, which is vital for effective leadership.
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins: Collins examines the factors that differentiate great companies from their competitors, providing insights into effective leadership and management practices. This book was given to all the members of the Leadership Council in my office by ownership a few years ago and I have actually read it. I actually refer to it all the time, frequently wishing I knew how to weaponize the content at times to help me convince others of my thinking.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey: Covey’s classic delves into both leadership and management principles, offering a holistic approach to personal and professional effectiveness. I own it but I haven’t read it … I’m wondering if one of the 7 habits is reading books that you purchase?
This AND That jump to 57:14
It’s that time of year in case you live out in the woods and off the grid … it’s pumpkin-spiced latte season.
Take perfect fall weather for Oct & Nov AND you have to accept and consume every possible option of pumpkin spice anything that is presented to you during that time.
The hype behind Pumpkin Spiced items is out of control and by the time I finish typing this sentence, 8 new products will receive their pumpkin-spiced wings. I am envious of those people who find such seasonal happiness and joy, but just how much can anyone really like pumpkin spice??
Ep 136: Leadership vs. Management
Leadership, with its visionary essence, calls upon us to inspire, to create a compelling picture of the future, and to rally others towards a shared aspiration. It’s about fostering innovation, embracing change, and instilling a sense of purpose that transcends daily tasks. It involves looking beyond the horizon, navigating uncharted waters, and motivating teams to reach their full potential.
On the flip side, management is the bedrock of stability, responsible for efficiency, and the executor of well-laid plans. It’s about orchestrating resources, ensuring that the machinery of day-to-day operations hums seamlessly and that goals are met with precision. Managers are the custodians of structure, guardians of process, and champions of operational excellence.
Special thanks to Construction Specialties – they are so focused on the importance of helping the architects achieve their creative vision, that they have created a CEU academy with multiple courses concerning facade design. These courses are each worth 1 AIA LU or 1 IDCEC CEU/HSW. Visit masteringmovement.net to take this and other courses.