Management is (still) not leadership

A few months ago, I decided to attend a management seminar in Toronto in order to “stay on top of my game”. The seminar leader said at the start of the session that she would be using the terms management and leadership interchangeably because they were one in the same.  I said to myself “here we go again” and you are my seminar leader? That is like saying that England, Ireland and Scotland are all the same.  That is absurd. Nothing is further from the truth. The fact is that management and leadership are two very different strategies. Although both are important, very noble and extremely important, the fact is that – they are very different.

The challenge is that most people see management and leadership as two interchangeable techniques and the crucial difference between the two go unnoticed. Many have been conditioned to believe that charisma and personality, influence and control, or transactional and transformational styles go hand in hand with both strategies and that just isn’t the case.

Management is about doing things right; its about counting value.

Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Known as a transactional style, employees follow their manager’s direction because the consequences of not doing so can be severe or frowned upon. Management is about executing operational details such as planning, budgeting, organizing, structuring and staffing jobs, measuring performance, job evaluations, daily problem solving, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing goals. This often occurs within tight constraints of resources such as time and money. Those goals may be the creation of products and / or services that are expected to be on spec, on time and on budget, all the time. Managers execute these aspects of their job day after day, week after week, month after month and are rewarded handsomely for their successes. The reality is that these activities are extremely complex at times and very difficult to achieve on a regular basis. Management activities are measured on a daily basis and the results of a manager’s efforts are usually known immediately given the short – term parameters of their task. Most people tend to underestimate how difficult and complex the management task really is. Forty per cent of managers do not survive more than two years due to the difficulty of their task bringing to the fore front that extraordinary management is essential in order to create superb leadership.

Leadership is about doing the right things; its about creating value.

Leadership has been described as a transformational process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. Leaders have followers not subordinates and following in a voluntary activity. Other in-depth definitions of leadership have also emerged. Organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal; somebody whom people follow; somebody who guides or directs others; all are relevant definitions.

I learned some time ago from a gentleman named Clair Proctor (Past President, E.D. Smith) that leadership is all about taking an organization into the future. Looking at and evaluating opportunities, having vision, making sure that people understand and breath the vision, establishing trust and transparency and producing valuable change in order to allow the organization to move forward in a turbulent world.

In watching Clair Proctor lead an organization through turbulent times, I realized that leadership was about strategy, behavior and character and less about tactics, charisma and talk. Leadership encompasses moving organizations into the future in a controlled methodical way in order to engage and meet future challenges and customer needs.

Leadership is also about anticipation. Anticipating future challenges and customer needs, staying close to your customer and anticipating future customers; leads us to quickly ascertain our organizations existing capabilities and future needs.

Over the past twenty years, organizations have not been able to develop strong leaders or managers and coupled with high shareholder expectations, a gap in organizational performance has quickly become apparent. This leaves organizations vulnerable to external forces while creating fear and unrest amongst employees and shareholders.

About The Author.

Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Southern, Ontario, Canada. An international presenter and consultant, he is known as a leader in operations management.  Nicholas conducts programs in leadership, supervision, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution. He has been a consultant since 1989 and is the author of several professional publications. His presentations have been consistently ranked in the top10 % throughout North America. See Nicholas’ bio, his other publications and services on the PMCG. Website at