In the new chapter to the paperback edition of his book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, Bob Sutton asserts that there is a difference between management and leadership, but focusing on it is dangerous (p, 263). He concurs as I do with Warren Bennis that “managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.” Bob thinks this distinction is accurate; however, focusing on it is dangerous because:
"It encourages bosses to see generating big and vague ideas as the important part of their jobs – and to treat implementation, or pesky details of any kind, as mere “management work” best done by “the little people.” Even if left unsaid, this distinction reflects how too many bosses think and act. They use it to avoid learning about people they lead, technologies their companies use, customers they serve, and numerous other crucial little things." (p. 264).
Bob’s concern about people considered leaders neglecting the art and discipline of managing details is certainly warranted. Any vision, strategy, or decision – no matter how brilliant it sounds – is worthless if it can’t be efficiently implemented.
My concern is about the larger number of folks in our organizations that implement these decisions that either fail or refuse to see themselves as critical to the process of leadership. Leadership might be in the job descriptions of those that hold c-suite jobs, but it’s the responsibility of everyone in the organization. I’ve worked with too many people over the years that behaved as if they were “little people” and effectively shirked their responsibility to care about anything larger than their proximal role in the organization.
The best leaders continually pursue skills that enhance their mastery of management efficiencies. The best managers always realize that effectiveness is the real goal, and efficiency is necessary but not sufficient for sustaining a healthy organization. The best organizational citizens understand how their roles are interdependent with every other role in the organizational leadership process.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.