Management vs Leadership

Published on November 6, 2015

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”  – Benjamin Franklin

It’s hard to disagree with the notion that time (or money) put into learning is never wasted. Equipment depreciates, customers come and go, but in an ever-changing business landscape you will never lose the things you have learnt. With that in mind, we strive to invest in developing our team as far as possible and understand that job satisfaction can only come with the appropriate level of challenge.

Recently charged with the pleasure of leading the Xperiology team operationally, it seemed only fitting that I took some time out of the office to gain a better insight into my role, partaking in the Leadership Skills course at Silicon Beach Training Centre in Brighton.

The course covered many basic theories and best practices from questioning and listening techniques to appraisals and contracts but the thing that could potentially elevate a person from a manager to a leader would appear to be an understanding of the psychology surrounding our behaviours. A grasp on this fundamental is the key to unlocking a team’s potential.

You would be forgiven for thinking that management and leadership are simply different titles for the same role. By default, those in management will lead the team and so surely they will satisfy both labels? Under closer scrutiny this is not the case. As a manager, it is your responsibility to wear the right hat at the right time or, more ambitiously, balance both upon your head.

Whilst wearing your manager’s hat you may provide the physical tools the team needs, create the systems and processes to get things done, delegate tasks and maintain order. Once the leader’s hat is adorned you will help develop the skills to use the tools, motivate the team to complete the task and provoke a united vision.

Put very basically; a manager enforces order, a leader inspires trust.

How can you inspire a team simply by knowing the difference between the two? There are three crucial things that any employee needs to feel:

• Valued – that their personal contribution is important;

• Legitimate – that what they are contributing is right;

• Control – that they have an element of control over what happens to them.

There are, of course, an infinite number of other boxes that can and may also be ticked to provide job satisfaction, but the idea is that with these three firmly in place, even the most simple of jobs can provide a long-term position for the right person.

A fitting anecdote, and one to ponder, is the story of President Kennedy during his 1962 visit to the NASA Space Centre.

On noticing a man sweeping the floor, Kennedy interrupted to ask him ‘What are you doing?’

To which he replied, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon’.

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