Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Leader versus The Manager

Today we are reaping the results of a switch from leading to a rise in the influence of managing. 

In our politically correct society leadership has become immoral. Without leaders progress ceases and we begin to stagnate. Leadership and management are synonymous in the minds of many and there is a belief that a good manager is a good leader. This is a false assumption. We need leaders today more than ever in our history. 

I am currently reading the book, "Killing Patton" by Bill O' Reilly and note that while leaders may be hard to put up with, they are needed when the stakes are high and there is a difficult job to be accomplished.

Several years ago I attended a US Military program review held at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado outside the gates of North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. The room was filled with brass from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. We had all gathered to review program activities which shared a common technology but were run differently by the three services. Speaker after speaker described their service’s methodology, resources, encountered difficulties, and progress. The Army and Navy used teams of presenters - civilian managers and engineers and uniformed military, each a specialist in a particular discipline.

The final presenter of the meeting was the lone Marine in attendance - a major with a chest full of medals. His presentation was brief, complete, and described a succession of victories over the technological issues plaguing the other services. Despite limited budgets and minimal contractor support they were demonstrating great strides.  When the Marine finished, the Navy Captain leading the review arose and made a terse statement,

“What we have here is the difference between management and leadership. The Army and Navy both have great managers on this program and are showing little progress. The Marines are demonstrating that leadership can resolve even complex technical issues. They have succeeded while we still struggle.”
Author, Virginia Postrel[i] in her 1998 book, “The Future and its Enemies” warned us of the coming battle between managers and leaders, who she identified respectively as “stasists” and “dynamists.” The stasists want to control all things so that mistakes do not happen, while dynamists want to be free to learn and grow by trial and error. Postrel claims the internet would never have developed if stasists were in charge.
Organizational consultant and author, Warren Bennis,[ii] widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies, lists twelve characteristics which distinguish a leader from a manager.

1.     The leader innovates - The manager administers;
2.   The leader is an original - The manager is a copy;
3.     The leader develops. - The manager maintains;–
4.     The leader focuses on people -The manager focuses on systems and structure–
5.     The leader inspires trust -The manager relies on control;
6.     The leader has a long-range perspective.-The manager has a short-range view;
7.     The leader asks what and why -The manager asks how and when;
8.     The leader’s eye is on the horizon -The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line;
9.     The leader originates -The manager imitates
10.  The leader challenges it -The manager accepts the status quo;
11.  The leader is his or her own person -The manager is the classic good soldier;
12.  The leader does the right thing - The manager does things right;

While it may not be politically correct to strive to become a leader, our nation’s political system, religious communities, and industries need leaders who are not afraid to take the reins and lead us to a better future. In politics, the attitude has changed from what is right for the nation to what is right for my party. In the church pastors have devolved from leaders to managers, giving in to church factions rather than stand for the word of God. And in business and industry we have given up the future for immediate rewards, the bottom line has replaced innovation and progress. 

It is no wonder live in a declining society. But when new leaders are allowed to step forward and lead, they can lead us back on the right track. Romans Chapter 12 includes the spiritual gift of leadership. It tells us to lead with diligence. The Greek word translated "lead" is to be ranked above or head and to take charge. This is not a politically correct term but it is what this nation needs today.

Romans 12:8 (NKJV) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 

[i] Postrel, Virginia, The Future and its enemies, The Free Press, a division of Simon and Shuster, Inc, NY, NY 1998
[ii] Bennis, Warren, On Becoming a Leader, Basic Books; Fourth Edition, Fourth Edition (March 3, 2009)

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