Leadership or Management?

Leadership or Management?

September 29, 2012 at 1:39 PM

What does your business need the most? 

There are many variables that dictate at any given time whether a business needs more focus on leadership or more on management. Variables include how mature the organisation is, how clear is it on where it’s headed, whether it’s planning for expansion or in the middle of a project. No matter where a business is, the fact of the matter is that all businesses need a combination of leadership and management all the time.

So what differentiates leadership and management? There are many answers to that simple question, but let’s stick to simple definitions for the sake of this article. Leadership is about casting vision or creating a cause to take people (your staff) with you on that journey to realise your vision. Management is about planning and taking care of the detail along the way. Firms’ need both to succeed in today’s markets, but there is often a lack of leadership given to staff.

In large firms, these functions are often carried out by different and highly skilled executives. In small to medium law firms the tasks of leadership and management typically fall to the same leader or at the very least a very small number of partners.

The question most leaders often ask themselves is: “Can I be both a good leader and a good manager?” To continue to succeed or even grow in increasingly competitive markets, the answer is that you have to be good at both, but leadership is the one that the vast majority of leaders need to develop the most.

Many organisations are typically more that 95% focused on management, and apart from the annual business planning process (if they have one) and perhaps a session by the Senior Partner at the annual retreat on the firms “vision” for the year, rarely give leadership a thought in terms of engaging their staff in where the firm is going (i.e. the vision).

Leadership is casting a vision that inspires your staff want to join you on that journey. It is creating a “cause” that people want to be part of. Employers of choice create an environment for their staff that allows them to feel like they have true purpose, that the things they do everyday are valuable contributions, and that the outcomes of their efforts make a real difference in peoples lives. That’s the cause you want your staff to feel, because if they don’t, you will have a hard time keeping their loyalty. (Loyally will be the subject of an upcoming article)

Most organisations are good at managing on a day to day basis, but the question is are they managing the firm to realise a vision, or are they simply maintaining the status quo? Management needs clear leadership to know where to manage to. Your staff need to know where you’re heading. They need to feel it’s worthwhile so they both want to lift and contribute, rather than simply punch the time clock.

So where do you start with leadership? You need to have a crystal clear idea of what your firm does and where it wants to go, because if you don’t, who will? Most firms have Mission, Vision, and Values statements, but how clear are they? Do they inspire staff to being part of a cause? Are they referred to regularly like “True North” on a compass to sanity test everything you do, making sure it contributes to moving you towards your vision? Do you include some form of your vision in your regular communications so that staff can’t forget what your firm stands for? This is true leadership. Firm Foundations Australia works with leaders to develop sound foundations of visionary and inspiring leadership. Stay tuned for upcoming articles on Mission, Vision and Values.

Tags: Management Leadership Business Planning Staff Mission Vision Values
Category: Leadership

Harle McGeachie

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