GLABB – something not only at the very foundation of my company, but of who I am as an individual. Having spent over 25 years in global business, I feel somewhat qualified to speak from my experience and knowledge as I have worked with and for some of the most well-known global companies around the world leading Global Service Operations. As I continue to talk with clients through the years about the true essence of global leadership (GL) and how it translates into real business results, I am continually intrigued by the variations and perceptions associated with the term Leadership. I started this series describing my definition of the word “Global“… so now what do I mean by “Leadership”, in context? An overused, ambiguous term to be sure… However, when used purposefully, the word leadership is very distinctive… and very powerful.
A definition of good leadership is different from a definition of what leadership is. Leadership, like power, is value neutral. It isn’t inherently good or bad. It becomes good or bad depending on what you do with it. As part of the human race, we have certainly done all kinds of interesting things with leadership – as a result, there have been (and will continue to be) good leaders… and bad. For the purpose of this article, I refer to the generic term “leadership” in a positive context as a critical component to business success…
Certainly, leadership is about shared values, vision and results. It is exemplified through the work people do, the attitudes they adopt and the potential they realize. But it all begins with an intention to influence others. At its most common denominator, Leadership is simply intentional influence… but I also like another definition I once heard:
“Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
Leadership (formal and informal) is not a given – EVER. It is gained through observation and action – What people observe as a result of the actions you take. Leadership is directly aligned to how people see you connecting and influencing people to achieve goals – how you guide people toward success, help them see and actively engage in taking the organization into the future, or turn challenges into opportunities that drive positive outcomes. Leadership is about vision… about people buying in… about empowerment… and, most of all – about producing intentional change.
In our rapidly evolving world, leadership is increasingly critical to success – no matter where you may be in the organizational hierarchy. Leadership can be ascribed to the CEO of an organization… or equally to a first year employee who leads his or her team to success behind the scenes. The idea that a few extraordinary people at the top are the only individuals who can provide the leadership needed today, on a global basis, is ludicrous… and a recipe for certain disaster.
Position And Title May Give You Power, But Title And Power In And Of Themselves Do Not Equal “Leadership”
Leadership is how people perceive you and the actions you take to enable positive outcomes, as well as how you handle things when they don’t go so well. Without the ability to successfully guide, influence and direct people to derive strong business results and a healthy sense of respect for you, the organization and each other – you are just providing management at its most basic level… not leadership – the two terms are certainly NOT interchangeable!
At it’s core, management’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate… while leadership inspires, guides, influences, and motivates. The late, great Warren Bennis composed this list of the differences between management and leadership:
- Management Administers… Leadership Innovates
- Management Maintains… Leadership Develops
- Management Is About Systems And Structure… Leadership Is About People
- Management Relies On Control… Leadership Inspires Trust
- Management Supports The Task… Leadership Supplies Perspective
- Management Asks How And When… Leadership Asks What And Why
- Management Imitates… Leadership Originates
- Management Accepts The Status Quo… Leadership Challenges It
- Management Does Things Right… Leadership Does The Right Thing
I agree wholeheartedly, although, I might add the following to round out the list:
- Management Compels Employees… Leadership Creates Followers
- Management Focuses On The Bottom Line… Leadership Focuses On The Finish Line
- Management Is Transactional… Leadership Is Transformational
- Management Promotes Process… Leadership Propagates Progress
- Management Deals In Transaction… Leadership Deals In Translation
- Management Fosters Competition… Leadership Fosters Collaboration
Leadership isn’t an option reserved for executives at Fortune 500 companies (although it definitely applies) – it is a defining attribute that every decision maker must exemplify to keep pace in today’s world. Our ability to build and sustain successful global business will depend on how we prepare current and future leaders to understand and embrace what leadership truly means.
There are very, very few organizations today that have sufficient leadership – especially on a global basis. Until we face this reality, and fully understand the real implications of leadership and management as separate (yet often intertwined) entities, we’re never going to move forward. Unless we recognize and embrace the differences (and the necessity) for both management and leadership, we will just continue to work harder to manage better… and continue to miss the opportunity realize our full potential through leadership. We are currently over-managed and under-led on a worldwide basis – politically and organizationally! We are increasingly vulnerable in a fast-moving world that will not wait for us to keep up – we need leadership, real leadership, as a sure-fire way to accelerate.
Is Your Organization Over-Managed And Under-Led?
Please engage the discussion and let us know how you view the difference between management and leadership.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, focusing on the concepts of global and leadership together for a comprehensive view of what is needed in our hyper-competitive global marketplace to be successful.