John Kotter’s recent Harvard Business Review blog post is essential reading for all managers. He says that people use the words “Leadership” and “Management” synonymously and it really annoys him. I agree.
I’ve always talked about “Management” as being associated with transactional activities and “Leadership” with transformational activities. Kotter makes a similar distinction and adds that Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behaviour. He also says we risk ending up with organisations that are over-managed and under-led which will be a recipe for failure in this fast-moving world.
It reminded me of the work I did for a client in 2010 where we were helping managers develop the skills to build and sustain high-performing teams. We introduced a few well-known teamwork and leadership models and gave the participants time to practice the behaviours needed to succeed as team leaders. At no point did we talk about “management processes”.
It also reminded me of one of my favourite books on leadership: Zapp! – the lightning of empowerment, by Bill Byham. This book is all about leadership behaviour: every time you have a conversation with someone you either Zapp them or Sapp them (you either empower them or dis-empower them). Simple really.