Management vs Leadership

At the recent Transcending Boundaries Conference I attended a presentation on Time Management for Activists, because who doesn’t want to see a time management piece at an alt-sex con? 🙂 Because I am that kind of geek, okay? Nuff said there.

At the end of his talk, which was excellent, Tom pulled out his soap box metaphorically speaking to talk for two minutes about Management vs. Leadership. I got more out of those two minutes than the rest of the talk, which is in no way meant to disparage the rest of the talk, I happen to have attended numerous time management things, making it a refresher, and had not seriously considered his points on M vs L before.

In a nut shell, management is

  • setting priorities
  • providing resources
  • clearing roadblocks

If you are not doing these things, what are you doing? Oh, and while it is okay to tell someone how to do their job at the beginning because that is providing resources, it is not okay to coninue to do so, that is micro-managing.

Leadership is like playing that classic children’s game, “Follow the Leader”. The leader is on the same team as the rest of the players, with two minor differences:

  • going first
  • making it easier for others to follow

Again, if you aren’t doing that, what are you doing?

If your actions do not fit into either of these categories, then you are doing something else. Stop it.

Some will find themselves in the role of a Managing Leader. This is ok as long as you know when you are supposed to be blazing that trail and when you are supposed to be sitting back from the main action ensuring that the doers have what they need to get the job done successfully.

To me this is the keyword here: success

Have you supplied the tools and resources necessary; been clear about priorities and desired outcomes; chosen the right person for the job giving them a support team, if needed; assigned finite, accomplishable tasks?

Not that you cannot occasionally push someone’s limits, but first you should know they are capable of rising to the occasion. Have they proven this through repeated completion of finite tasks, perhaps using innovative techniques, surprising you by their methods or speed?

Good managers set their people up for success; good leaders meditate upon their personal processes and share this data with their team. Good managing leaders do both, trying to give others the opportunity to do the work through effective delegation, availability, and mentoring.

On a Time Management note, I believe that task lists are key and the Remember the Milk is the best of them. It has a Gmail gadget and an iPhone app (or Android and Blackberry apps if that is what you are into), is fully customizable, has a free version, and the pro version is cheap ($25/year).