There’s been many an article written about the difference between managing and leading. Recently, I had a conversation about the differences between managing and leading – referring to the work of John Kotter – where he clearly states that we manage to implement (or as some now say – execute) and we lead to inspire. I have experienced many people attach managing to the task and leading to the people.
However I believe it is important to acknowledge that managing is equally about people and leading is equally about the task – it is the level at which either of these are undertaken that may change as they progress in an organisation.
Managing is not just about the task; it is also very much about people. Many organisations suffer from mediocre performance due to a lack of managing people. After all, it is much easier and often more personally rewarding to manage the task. Managing people requires leaders to give feedback, receive feedback, resolve conflict. These can all be tough conversations – which most of us run from where possible!
While leading is also very much about leading the task as well as the people undertaking it. Of course, the nature of the tasks change as one progresses in their business, for example: creation of the business strategy, conversion of opportunities into real revenue for the business, completing research into particular issues of interest to you and to the business.
Courageous leaders juggle the tension between people and task in the way they manage AND lead others. They do not avoid the tough conversations with their people and they do not avoid the challenging tasks that require more leadership capability.