Management : Efficiency :: Leadership : ??

When talking about management, what most people are thinking about is efficiency, maximizing output per unit of input. Many (most?) people talk about the need for leadership in addition to, or even instead of, management.

But what exactly do we get from leadership? What is its purpose?

The first word that comes to mind is “effectiveness”. But most measures of effectiveness are based on a desired end-state, which to me makes this just a different way of measuring efficiency.

Is leadership just another way to get people to do what you want them to do so you can accomplish your own goals? Or is it something different, something more?

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Some thoughts:

When you “manage” something / someone, the best you can hope for is what you ask for. When you “lead” someone, there is no way to know ahead of time what you will end up with.

Maybe the question is better addressed in the context of the Cynefin framework:

Management : Simple :: Leadership : Chaotic

(and possibly disorder), with a sliding mix of the two being appropriate in complicated or complex situations.

Of course, I’m not the first person to consider this question. There are many (many many) more thoughts on this question out there, as you can see in the Google search results for leadership vs. management.

Why we work better under pressure, and why we should encourage it (in moderation, of course)

Part of the reason for my time away from this blog has been my role in planning a trampoline and tumbling meet here in St. Louis. With just a couple of weeks to go until competition begins, things are really starting to cook. And, like with many projects, there is quite a bit of what could be (politely) called last-minute running around.

We all know the experience of doing (what we think is) our best work as a deadline approaches . Or the frustration of managing a team that works this way. And maybe it is something that we should – if not encourage – at least indulge, in moderation. For what is pressure if not competition. Granted, it is competition against the clock, but competition nonetheless.

And we all know that competition, in proper doses, is a very good thing.