How do leadership and management differ?
For centuries, there has been much written about the differences between managers and leaders. The nuances have been considered by every industry body, corporate researcher, HR consultancy and industry publication. A quick search for leadership or management on sites such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, CIPD, and McKinsey, as well as jobs boards and university research sites will return a myriad of results.
General consensus is that leaders are insightful, inspiring and capable of creating the landscape for a movement, whilst managers focus more on planning, directing and coordinating the completion of tasks. So, do leaders inspire us but leave us unsure of what to do? Do managers make the operational expectations clear but leave us cold?
In this hybrid world, we argue that it is ever more important to demonstrate a solid mixture of leadership and management characteristics: empowering others to make decisions and have a sense of ownership (leadership) whilst ensuring the team have clarity on operational expectations and remain focused (management). As the world of work flexes, so must we as leaders and managers.
Tannenbaum and Schmidt published their Leadership Continuum back in 1973, which at the time was designed to show the radical differences between a manager using a high level of authority on the left-hand side of the continuum, to a leader providing a high degree of freedom to the team on the right-hand side of the continuum. From left to right, the verbs used to describe leadership style are Tells, Sells, Suggests, Consults, Joins, Delegates, and Abdicates. Have a look at the continuum here.
At ICC, the concept of spending any length of time in a certain spot on the continuum is unsettling. In fact, we encourage you to remain nimble, moving up and down the continuum depending on the team dynamic, the environment, team and individual motivations, the size of the task, the level of skill required, and the ever-changing external factors that prompt a high level of agility. It’s not easy, we all have a preference, but if you can nail the skill of leading and managing according to the current needs of your team, then your path to being an effective leader is likely to be far less bumpy.
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