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Management vs leadership

Leadership and management are often misunderstood as one and the same…but they are not.  Certainly, a good leader should be able to manage and vice versa.  But it is important to understand the difference because both are important to the success of an organization.

            The key difference between the two is that management is about processes and leadership is about people.  You manage your accounts payable, but you lead your accounts payable administrator.  Understanding this is the key to motivating, coaching, and growing your people to the very best of their ability.

            This misunderstanding occurs in an organization for several reasons.  Most often, it is because we promote the wrong people and promote for the wrong reasons.  Possible reasons for promotion include, length of service (the next manager is the one who has worked there the longest) and demonstrated ability for the task at hand. Neither foretells an ability to lead and lead well.

            Unfortunately, we learn management skills, as opposed to leadership skills, very early.  Our parents tell us what to do, as opposed to teaching us to think of answers to our own questions.  This is one of several reasons why management, as opposed to leadership, becomes the common way to run an organization.

            Management is about effecting positive change in the organization by recognizing process problems, correcting those process problems, and teaching others how to implement the new processes.  Management is a necessary skill.  But it is not leadership.

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