Weekly Thought – February 28, 2017
Fred said he never felt the time pressures so often discussed in leadership articles. He attributed this to the art of delegation. However, before he could delegate he had to understand what his unique abilities were and what “only he could do.” These thoughts from Fred were written in the mid-80s but are strikingly current and relevant.
Understanding Leadership versus Management
Leadership and management are two different skill sets. Many good leaders are not good administrators. And in the same way, good managers are not always effective leaders. The rule of thumb is: Lead people and manage work.
As President, Jimmy Carter was a better executive than leader. He read up to three hundred pages of reports before breakfast, it is said. He was one of our best-informed Presidents, but he had great difficulty getting others to follow him.
Ronald Reagan’s strength has been leadership, not management. The press criticizes him because he often doesn’t fully answer technical questions. He doesn’t focus on the memorization of that information. He devotes his energies to leading through setting the vision for the country, getting others to join behind in the vision, and achieving a sense of well-being about the direction he outlines. People who mock him call him “The Great Communicator.” This is intended to suggest that capable talkers are not thinkers. They also allude to his film career as a negative quality. They do not realize the power of clear communication in strong leadership. Reagan simply delegates the administration.
Even if a leader is not strong in administration, he must recognize its absolute value. It is a foolish person who closes his mind to “the details.” Those who understand the contribution of a well-run organization know how to delegate, appreciate, develop, and then leave it alone.
Over supervision (or being a control freak) is the great sin of leaders committed against managers. The leader’s task is to say, “Here’s where we are, and there is where we ought to go.” The administrator’s job is to successfully get the organization from point A to B. Books written about well-run companies recognize the contribution of teams comprised of leaders with complementary gifts, exercised by strong people. I have always said the pairing of number 1 and number 2 positions is a critical decision.
As A.T. Cushman, the CEO of Sears, put it, “The art of administration is constant checking.” He’s so right. It’s detail work. Management takes a different, but important set of skills. To nurture both leadership and management is to put into place a winning combination.
This week think about: 1) What are my strongest gifts? 2) How am I developing my strengths and bolstering my weaknesses? 3) Where have I experienced the greatest use of my talents?
Words of Wisdom: “Lead people and manage work.”
Wisdom from the Word: “You should explain God’s laws and teachings to the people. Warn them not to break the laws. Tell them the right way to live and what they should do. But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders.” (Exodus 18: 20, 21 NET Bible)