There is a whole body of academic work surrounding studies about management versus leadership.
One of the best explanations I know states simply:
Management is about the process. Leadership is about people. ~Doug Thorpe
Being a good manager means business goals (or personal goals) are getting met. The process is working close to or at its peak potential. You, as a manager, can influence the priorities, push the right buttons, and get things done. Some managers make good, solid careers operating at this level. However, there may not be any meaningful impact in the lives of the employees subjected to a ‘pure manager’ approach.
Managers can certainly be decent handlers of their people; fair, honest, respectful, and so forth. But frankly, some managers are not good with people. While results are being posted, the people on the team are slowly feeling disconnected and uninspired.
Leadership takes the influence with people to a whole higher level. Leadership definitely gets the work done and meets or exceeds goals. While that is happening, people are feeling inspired. Team morale is building. Loyalty is growing.
Understanding how to be both an efficient manager and an effective leader takes some work.
In his book “The Heart of Leadership”, Mark Miller tells a story of a young business man named Blake. Blake is struggling at work with his duties as a team leader. He seeks some counsel from a close family friend. I won’t tell all of the story, but the core value comes down to this simple acrostic.
The initials stand for:
- Hunger for wisdom – keep learning new and different things to improve yourself
- Expect the best – set a high standard and maintain your expectations for it
- Accept responsibility – stop the blame game, take your ownership seriously
- Respond with courage – be bold with your decisions
- Think others first – be willing to be more of a servant rather than a boss
True leadership does in fact have heart. I like the simple way this can be explained. (By the way, Mark’s book is a great read for anyone struggling in this area).
As with Blake in this story, you might need to seek multiple mentors to guide you in each of these areas. Find role models who fully understand these principles. Soak in their experiences. Begin the journey to apply the teachings to your efforts both in the office and at home.
I promise you will be amazed by the shift in those who report to you, for whom you have influence and impact. When all things are said and done, leadership to inspire and guide people will far outperform pure management. Having a heart for leadership wins the day!