A management focus, he says, produces essential order, consistency and predictability, while leadership produces change and adaptability—to new competitors, new products, new markets, new regulations and new customers.
Every real leader does both, he says, and there’s no secret formula for figuring out when to lead and when to manage. Business schools mainly teach management skills, while leadership is devilishly difficult to get right.
He offers the examples of manager Pete, who’s all numbers and systems but who puts his foot in it repeatedly while trying to connect with his employees, and manager Jim, who upholds the purpose and meaning of work and the dignity of his people, but breeds chaos in his uncoordinated quest to bring about change.
On the company level, you don’t have to go any further than Xerox in the 1970s to see an unbalanced focus on management, to the point that its employees scathingly called that bureaucracy Burox. On the other hand, leadership without management in the 1990s bred the cult-like dot-coms, as volatile as new elements created in a lab.
Still, leadership essentially seeks to drive change.
How to proceed? Look over your daily work calendar for the past 90 days, Feiner says. People are always amazed at how much time they spend on managing and how little on the coaching, feedback and communication they need to move the organization forward. Free yourself from the “activity trap,” balance your load and you’ll make the time to lead.
— Adapted from The Feiner Points of Leadership, Michael Feiner, Warner Business Books.