Leading, not managing, complexity

One of the pleasures of blogging are the parallels I find between and among various bloggers’ themes.  As I was prepping for my WSJ interview last Friday, I reviewed the posts on my Complexity Set page.  I realized that Elizabeth’s review of the book Leadership Skills for Project and Programme Managers (here) provided a nice counterpart to my post on a Harvard Business Review article The Experience Trap (sorry subscribers only) — Set Goals for Behavior.

My post highlights the power of goals that don’t simply replicate planning and control targets.  Rather, one should put the focus on behaviors that support project deliverables and outcomes.  This differentiation is one of the key differences between managing and leading.  Elizabeth’s post had a nice table from the book that outlined these differences really well, which I though was worth spiffing up and reformatting (below).

NOTE: Table manually copied and reformatted from Elizabeth’s post.  Credit: Adapted from Franklin, M. and Tuttle, S. (2008) Leadership Skills for Project and Programme Managers, TSO: London, p. 9.

6 Responses

  1. Hey, you’ve made the table look really good! But doesn’t the arrow imply that management can turn into leadership or that management is somehow not as good as leadership?

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    Good catch…I’ll fix and update. Though the arrow was meant to imply that one should evolve from manager to leader, you need both.


  3. Peter Drucker used the term orchestration to talk about the role of the manager in the knowledge enterprise. The reason that orchestration is so important is that many of us are managing people whose work we could not do (at all or as well as they do). I think the concept informs the question management versus leadership. Some things need to be managed, others to be lead. The art is probably in knowing when to wear the right hat.

  4. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the comment…I had forgotten about the term. I’m going to post on how SAP handles this topic shortly…we call it the “culture of AND”. In other words, you can’t choose between managing and leading. Which gets to what Drucker meant, I believe.


  5. Good Managers – emphasize rationality and control, are problem-solvers (focusing on goals, resources, organization structures, or people), often ask question, “What problems have to be solved, and what are the best ways to achieve results so that people will continue to contribute to this organization?”, are persistent, tough-minded, hard-working, intelligent, analytical, tolerant, and have goodwill toward others.

    Good Leaders – are often perceived as brilliant, but sometimes lonely, achieve control of themselves before they try to control others, can visualize a purpose and generate value in work, and are imaginative, passionate, non-conforming risk-takers.

    • Thanks for the comment, Heather. I like the distinction, especially because it focuses on temperament. In my case, I find that I can lead much more effectively in some environments, mostly because that environment matches my interests and passions in a way that highlights those leadership traits in me.

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