Leaders Versus Managers

“You don’t manage people; you manage things. You lead people.”
-Admiral Grace Hopper

leader v mgrAdapted from a table at changingminds.org

This comparison is similar to the Entrepreneurs Versus Administrators relationship. One big difference is that entrepreneurship is usually associated with business or enterprise development. Of course, at the core of all of our explorations here is the idea of getting things done. Things do get done in organizations with rigid vertical organizational charts. Things also get done when passionate leaders build relationships and leverage diverse skills and
common values. A comparison of leaders and managers on the website diffen.com asks some questions that get to the heart of choosing an approach:

  • Does a manager have to be a great leader?
  • Does a leader need to have good management skills?

My response to both questions is, “not necessarily, but a little bit couldn’t hurt.” This is really a case of something not being questions of either/or, but rather times when both/and makes much more sense.

It’s like Grace Hooper said in the quote at the top of the page, people need leadership, but there are always details related to their work that require management. Even though these discussions center around leadership, business management guru Tom Peters is right when he said: “Stop being conned by the old mantra that says, ‘Leaders are cool, managers are dweebs.’ Instead, follow the Peters Principle: Leaders are cool. Managers are cool too!”

With this in mind, it seems critical for leaders to identify what aspects of the work that they are involved in require commitment to detailed control, and what aspects lend themselves to serving as a guide to help others navigate new terrain.

Traditional Versus Collaborative Leadership

“Collaboration isn’t about being best friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you’re working with. It is about putting all and any baggage aside, bringing your best self to the table, and focusing on the common goal.”
-Meghan M. Biro

The table below was developed from the extensive work found on the  Collaborative Leadership website of the Leadership Development National Excellence Collaborative.

traditional vs collaborative leadershipCollaborative leadership is all about the intentional development of relationships that enables individual successes by stakeholders while accomplishing a collective outcome. As you look at the comparisons in the table it is clear that most of the world seems to reside in the rigid world of positional leadership described in the left column. There is, however, a lot more collaborative leadership going on out there (or at least headed in that direction) than you might think.

Living in the digital age makes collaborative leadership easier to accomplish, because the open sharing of information is at the heart of making it work. Micro meetings, quick polling, crowdsourcing, and other realities of a life immersed in portable, digital information make once idealistic ideas like self-governance, and broad participation possible.

Another key difference between traditional and collaborative leadership is that the latter is at its core, rooted in trust. When stakeholders voices are not only heard, but in fact, embraced for their valuable perspective; trust is cultivated, and shared time and effort result in productivity.

More to come, as this concept is closely tied to a number of the others discussed here.

Working Together: Coordinating, Cooperating, Or Collaborating

“I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively.”
—Golda Meir

Source for the table below: COLLABORATION FOR A CHANGE (revised January 2002)
Definitions, Decision-making models, Roles, and Collaboration Process Guide
By Arthur T. Himmelman

CCC_HimmelmanWhen people talk about working together the subtext for everyone at the table, whether it is said aloud or not is usually: “what’s in it for me, and what’s it gonna cost?” Arthur Himmelman’s distinctions between these three concepts are important in that they illustrate how as relationships grow and deepen, critical aspects of working together, like trust and confidence, pave the way for shared risk and resources.

Moving from coordinating, to cooperating, to collaborating isn’t a seamless, smooth evolution. People who work together successfully spend plenty of time up front not only “getting on the same page,” but also honestly sharing their expectations and commitments with their potential partners.

Another important thing to remember is that every partnership doesn’t have to be, or strive to be a collaboration. Sometimes simple coordination can achieve a goal. When that is the case, that success can serve as an underpinning for a deeper partnership.

Quality Of Life Versus Standard of Living

“The quality of life is more important than life itself”
-Alexis Carrel

The terms quality of life, and standard of living, are often used interchangeably. Standard of living is for the most part, a measure of consumption. Money, however, cannot buy happiness. It can’t keep people from discriminating against you. It can’t make you as young as you used to be.

quality of life vs. standard of living

An article by Cornelia Butler Flora, published by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, cites a NCRCRD study “relating the objective measures with subjective measures of quality of life.” Among the the findings of that study:

1. Quality of life is not related—either positively or negatively—to standard of living.
2. Having choices in the productive work that you do is the most important dimension of quality of life.
3. The respect of family and people who matter to you in your communities of place and interest is the second key dimension of quality of life.

This is important to understand if you are trying to innovate some change in the world. Even though quality of life is subjective, and means different things to different people, there are many values and dreams that are shared among many individuals, and groups in a community. One of the important things that leaders can do is to work toward achieving satisfaction with quality of life throughout their organization or community. People make up their minds on issues based on how those issues impact their own quality of life.

This does not mean that standard of living indicators are not important. It just serves as a reminder that many, many of our desires transcend money and wealth.

I once worked with a leadership group in a small, scenic community that was staring the quality of life/standard of living question smack dab in the face. This small town had a resident who was proposing to build the nation’s largest tire incineration plant. He was selling the idea primarily on the idea of job creation. His claim was that burning the nation’s used tires would improve the local economy, improving the standard of living for low level wage earners.

Of course, the opposition to this plan came from citizens whose arguments were rooted in quality of life issues. Air quality, ecosystem destruction and aesthetics,eventually won the day, but not before the community experienced considerable divisiveness, trying to reconcile their common values.

There can be no community development without economic development; and there can be no economic development without talking about quality of life concerns.

Learning and Leadership: the Importance of Reflection

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
― John Dewey

Learning is critical to effective leadership. If we are lucky, we learn from our mistakes. We also need to understand why our successes worked, so that we can continuously improve on those aspects of our endeavors.

The table below is based on a great little blog post by educator and consultant Karl Kapp, titled: Two Opposite But Important Elements of Learning. It serves as a good reminder that neither interactivity, or reflection are sufficient on their own if the goal is deep learning. Information doesn’t become knowledge until we can connect it to something we already know.

learning

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
-Peter Drucker

Leadership is a formative practice. A good leader is constantly reflecting on what she or he has just experienced, and tweaking the next approach or strategy. Reflection gives us an opportunity to question assumptions and stereotypes. It reveals our real values, and keeps us honest with ourselves.

Problem Solving Versus Appreciative Inquiry

“The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it.”
— Andrew Carnegie

The development of the practice of appreciative inquiry (AI) traces back to David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the late 1980s. They felt that problem solving was often limited by focusing only on what isn’t working, and not on further developing what was working well. (Visit the Appreciative Inquiry Commons at Case Western University). The book, A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry by Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, puts it this way:

Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms.

If you have had any introduction to AI, you have probably seen the table below. I have yet to track down the original source of the table. If anyone knows please post in the comments section.

problem solving vs AIYou might look at this table and say, “that’s just semantics – appreciative inquiry is solving problems, right?” The difference, however, lies in AI’s capacity-centered approach, and its deep belief in human potential. Yes, AI solves problems, but it is deliberately constructive in its focus on keeping those same problems from reoccurring.

I plan on posting a number of ideas related to Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), an approach which uses approaches like AI to mobilize communities. More on AI when we explore the concepts of ABCD.

Authority Versus Power

“Power does not consist in striking with force or with frequency, but in striking true.”
– Honoré de Balzac

There are those who say that you can’t have authority without power. There are also those who say that you can’t have power without authority. Either way, it is inescapable to lead change without some understanding of these concepts. To me, the critical question is: Can people with authority cultivate a culture that people feel empowered to lead innovation?

authority vs powerAuthority is not always blindly obeyed. Authority is subjective; it is depends upon an our perception of its rightness. When you’re trying to lead people to create change, power is more important than authority. Leaders should embrace the idea of people feeling powerful.

 Talking About Power

Leaders think of power as ability to do or accomplish something. What is POWER? In mathematics, power refers to exponentiation. It can also mean exponential growth of the number of people on board with the change you’re trying to create.

In physics, power refers to energy, force or momentum. An action in one place can make something happen in another place. Social power is the same way. Think of any movement, and how actions in one place influenced results in other places.

I like to remind folks about these myths and insights about power from a great book, The Quickening of America:Building Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives by Frances Moore Lappé and Paul DuBois

Myth: There’s Only So Much Power to Go Around
The Empowering Insight: Relational power expands possibilities for many people at once. The more you use it, the more there is.

Myth: Power is a One-Way Force
The Empowering Insight: Power always exists in relationships, going both ways. In relationships, the actions of each affect the other, so no one is ever completely powerless.

Myth: Power is a Dirty Word
The Empowering Insight: We cannot realize our values or goals without power. Power is the capacity to act publicly and effectively, to bring about positive change.

How do you think about power?

Three Faces of Power [added 1/21/2015]

When people think about political power, they usually fall into two groups. The first sees power as an elitist concept, one where a privileged few call the shots. The other group has a pluralist view of power – that it is distributed equitably in society. This is, of course, a basic tenet of democracy.  It is also critical to the idea of organizing, and leading change.

Without getting too academic, I want to introduce just a little theoretical stuff that might help expand our practical notions of power. Political Science scholars have, for the last half century studied what are called the faces of power. Here are just three brief snapshots from this ever-expanding continuum of thought.

1) Robert Dahl’s One-Dimensional Model of Power, which says that power is exercised only in decision-making situations where parties hold opposing views. That power is exercised thusly: A has power over B, and A can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do;

2) Peter Bachrach and Morton Baratz’s Two-Dimensional Model of Power, this says that in addition to this decision-making function, power is also related to the control of communication. Messaging, or silencing messages, can control the political process, and restrict it to issues that serve only to reinforce power.

3) Steven Lukes’ Three-Dimensional Model of Power says that the first dimension of power is success in decision making. The second dimension is managing the agenda. According to Lukes, the third face of power is not as overt as the first two. It is the manipulation of the wishes of others without them knowing they are being manipulated.

In an age of rapid dissemination of information it is easy to see how the second face (controlling communication) is more difficult. People acting as citizen journalists take to the streets from multiple angles to expose truths that people seeking power and control don’t want you to know. When everyone on the street has a camera and a publishing mechanism in their pocket, it is pretty hard to deny the reality they are sharing.

Similarly, manipulation is enhanced by social media. For people who want to maintain power, propaganda finds all media platforms. For example, Fox News masquerades as “fair and balanced” journalism when it has a clear agenda that has no intention of being either fair, nor balanced.

People’s access to good information is important for leadership. Leadership is not about public relations machines that spin every message your way. Real information creates real options, and real choices. When people have the power to make informed choices, they are more likely to act on behalf of that choice becoming a reality.

Responsibility

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
— George Bernard Shaw

I created the table below to illustrate a few of the ways that people think about responsibility. The first use actually address the difference between responsibility and accountability. Accountability is liability, and demands some sort of response. You can be responsible by being accountable.

ResponsibilityThe “it’s not me” notion of responsibility is often used as the excuse for not doing the right thing. It often takes courage to avoid using this excuse, because it can mean risking an asset or a privilege that you currently have.

To think of responsibility as a social contract is supposedly what we are doing in a democracy. Of course, the idea that democracy is primarily about competition rather than cooperation often keeps social responsibility from being a primary consideration.

Entrepreneurs Versus Administrators

“Entrepreneurs may be brutally honest, but fostering relationships with partners and building enduring communities requires empathy, self-sacrifice and a willingness to help others without expecting anything in return.”
– Ben Parr

Administration of any institution is essentially a conservative practice. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is progressive by definition. When you look at Greg Dees’ table below, the idea that jumps out is that administrators are essentially risk averse. Of course, when no risks are taken things don’t change a whole lot. It isn’t that entrepreneurs don’t try to mitigate risk; they simply embrace it as part of the price you pay to innovate.

entrepreneur vs administratorSource: J. Gregory Dees, Co-founder, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Consider the value in entrepreneurship’s bias toward action, combined with flexible perseverance. This the best recipe for creating change. Bureaucratic administration is the best recipe for maintaining the status quo.

There are certainly enterprises that need to be rooted in bureaucratic procedure. If your goal is to create something new, and different, however, you may want to consider entrepreneurial approaches.

How can leaders foster and cultivate entrepreneurship?

  • Encourage creativity. Crowdsource your challenges among your team and allies.
  • Continually experiment with small “proof of concept” pilot projects. Don’t just talk about doing things differently; try something new.
  • Play the devil’s advocate when plans appear to follow the way things have “always been done.” Just make sure that you don’t let questioning everything keep you from action.
  • Don’t be too prescriptive, and encourage ownership of your goals. People will see various paths to achieving outcomes.

It seems that to a great extent, administration is about power, and mitigating risk. Continue the exploration of those topics by clicking the links.