Stop Being Confused With Leadership and Management

Traders Den

By Simon Bere

Stop Being Confused With Leadership and Management Terms and Concepts and Dramatically Shift Your Leadership and Management Performance and Results

Contrary to how strategy is not being treated in the corporate world and organisations, one cannot talk about real strategy without talking about performance because real strategy is like 8 (eight) of which one half is theory and the other half is mission execution.

And let me state here that I personally suspect that it is not proper to talk about strategy execution.

You execute a mission or project or assignment, not strategy.

You can also execute a plan but strategy it does not sound right to me to talk about executing a strategy.

Strategy has gone haywire in the world and, sadly, the results are there to see, mounting problems that we are failing to solve and a ubiquitous deterioration in business, organisational and economic performance and results in the whole world.

We are taking strategy way too lightly and we now have so many fake versions of strategy that real strategy is not limited to few isolated cases around the world.

If you think I am the only one seeing this, ask the likes of professor Michael Porter, Professor Henry Mintzberg, Dr Tony Grundy, Dr Gray and the legendary Peter Drucker. The read the history of strategy and its origins and you will see how far the world has veered off the course of real strategy.

Now, as if that is not enough, there is also a lot of confusion around the leadership and management.

In all the workshops and seminars we run for leaders and managers, whether they be strategy sessions, leadership and management training education and development, or team building session, we see this confusion between leadership and management at play.

In fact, we divot considerable time on these two terms leadership and management asking pointed questions and giving participants assignments to help us understand where their current theory or leadership and management.

The results are always telling; most people in organisations, including some senior managers and top executives struggle with these two terms.

Exercise after exercise reveal that most people cannot tell whether leadership and management are the same or not.

Again this is not entirely their fault because many authors on leadership and management have fueled the confusion by treating leadership and management as if they are the same. It is not uncommon to pick a book titled management and you find it talking the most about leadership and picking a leadership book and find the contents being management contents and without he author clarifying how leadership and management are the same or different or how they link in the real world.

Another source of serious confusion is the use of the title leaders and managers in organisations. Many managers we meet during our work in strategy work, training education and development and team building do not see themselves as leaders even when they have work with other people in general and have teams they lead.

So because of that they have no idea that real leadership is not about position but a role. The managers do not think they lead even when they lead everyday by virtue of having a team of followers and by virtue of making decisions that have impact on their teams.

Their title “manager” blinkers them.

There is something more to this confusion.

Most managers we meet struggle on how to deal with their bosses. When we tell them they have to lead their bosses also they get surprised and many resist the concept. They think their bosses are their leaders and they have to lead them instead. They fail to understand that leadership has context and that they cannot be effective as “managers” if they can’t lead especially if they can’t lead their bosses within the context of their job and roles.

There is no effective management without effective leadership

In addition, most of the managers and some executives we meet are confused by the traditional academic definition of management which is very difficult to implement since it lacks the specifics of how to. For example the common management definition talks of planning, controlling, coordinating, leading and organizing but very few managers and organisation then establish effective and common standards and methods for effectiveness in the different areas. Then in real world management is not as clear cut as coordinating, leading, organizing and controlling.
When we ask managers;

What do you manage?

Most managers say they manage people. When we say you cannot manage people an serious argument erupts. They have heard of the term “people management” and maybe their bosses telling them to “manage their people”. We tell them you do not manage people; you lead them. It takes a lot to understand this because many managers and senior executives really believe people can be managed. Yet trying to manage people is actually a serious leadership mistake.

We have met many managers who have the roles but they lack awareness of what exactly they must be doing and how. Most of the ones we have met have no personal development agendas and they do not do much to improve themselves on their own. They wait for corporate and organisational training. They lack self awareness and ask them about who they are and their strengths and their personal leadership styles and other critical for effective management and leadership they come very shallow. We have met many managers who cannot even name one book on leadership or management that they have read outside their formal education.

This confusion is also common among some senior managers and some top executives. Because of the lack of clarity between leading and managing, a bewildering number of people in positions of leadership stray into management and clash with those below them by invading their space. Instead of leading people they spend the most of their time trying to manage people and to manage people’s activities instead of managing people’s results. Many people in position of leadership lead without a clear and accurate leadership blue print and dash board to guide them in their leadership. They focus on the wrong thing and easily get distracted from their core mandate of leading instead of managing people.

There is also a leadership misconception that leaders must not manage. Leaders must also manage but they manage different things from the positional “managers”. There is no effective leadership without effective management. And the first thing leaders must manage to be very effective is to manage themselves. In fact,

  1. Great leaders manage themselves very well
  2. Then they lead themselves well-How can one lead others if one cannot lead oneself?
  3. Then they manage the strategy of the organisation
  4. Second they manage their leadership and that of their leadership team

There are other several strategic things that effective leaders manage. When leaders do not know what to manage, they will fail to lead their teams and organisation and end up practicing what is called zero-leadership. Many managers and leaders never reach their peak potential in their roles because they lack robust and accurate personal training, education and development agendas.

Leadership and management training education and development must not be adhoc, once off things. They must be well structured. Further most of leadership management training are too informational; they provide a lot of intellectual content through teaching but falls short on equipping leaders and managers with real skills. There very little leader and manager development that takes place and yet training and personal development contribute more than 80% to real world leadership and management performance while knowledge contributes less than 21%. Of the many managers and senior leaders we have met, very few have personal coaches, trainers, strategists, mentors or advisors. They believe they can reach high performance levels in their leadership and management without such help. There is also a common mistaken belief that if someone has degree qualifications especially the MBA or Business Leadership or Strategic Management then one needs no further training, education and development. This is despite the obvious facts that no degree program can ever cover everything that a person needs to know in any discipline. This is despite that most of our university education is tailor made for intellectuals and academics and not practitioners. This is despite the fact that most university education especially in non-stem disciplines does not focus much on skills and qualities but on knowledge.

In high performance organisations leadership and management are everywhere in the organisation. Everyone leads and everyone manages.

The new approach to leadership and management training involves simultaneous training education and development in leadership and management for both “managers” and “leaders” because these two cannot be separated in the real world. Managers must lead to be effective. Leaders must also manage is they are to be effective. What differs are the contexts and contents of leadership and management as well as the levels of #leadership. There is also a strong focus on skills, capabilities and personal development rather than just leadership and management knowledge dissemination.

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