Yep, I said it…leadership eats management for breakfast every day!! Don’t get me wrong, I am not snubbing my nose at managers or even the role that management plays. What I am saying, however, is someone who operates from a position of leadership as opposed to a position of management will nearly always reap greater results. Allow me to defend my position:
The Top 5 Reasons Leadership Eats Management For Breakfast
- Relationships – in education we are 100% in the people business. Heck our product is just that, people. I have worked with all types of leaders and managers during my career and can say without a doubt I will follow a leader and tolerate a manager. I have written posts before on this topic (see: Worst Boss Ever) and stand on a clear philosophy. Management holds a title while leaders may or may not have a specific title. Positional leadership is one thing, inspiring others through transformational leadership is a totally different animal. The only way a person can inspire others to achieve above their current level is through relationships. Great leaders will work hard to build relationships with those around them.
- Vision over task completion – management is about getting things done! Nothing wrong with that premise at all. I even spent one year with ‘GSD’ written on my desk blotter and on a sticky note inside my laptop. (Get Stuff Done – only I didn’t mean stuff) The struggle with simple task completion is it can be quite uninspiring to those around you. Yes, it feels great to get things accomplished, but that could be done in isolation and lead to disconnects with staff. Am I saying leaders never get tasks completed??!!?? Absolutely not, but leaders don’t simply focus on just task completion (or test scores for that matter). Leaders always have their eye (at least one of them) on the vision of the organization. Are we moving closer to what we envision we can become or are we just getting stuff done?
- Decompartmentalization – yeah, I’m pretty sure I just made that word up. But it’s a thing…really. Have you worked with someone who is so totally focused on ‘their sandbox’ that they can’t see the bigger picture? Typically it is hard to look at those folks as leaders. This probably fits in the vision over task completion portion of this post (if so, I owe you one more way leaders eat managers for breakfast) but it is very difficult to lead from a position in which you focus only on your tasks or sandbox. One of the best leadership teams I was ever a part of (team of 4) had each of us with very clear roles and responsibilities. Yet, we easily moved in and out of each others’ responsibilities and kept a collective eye on the vision of our school. Sure, there were three assistants and one principal but we led collectively as a team. While each had their duties, we were truly decompartmentalized.
- Trust over fear – I should not have to even write something here. But still to this day many in ‘leadership roles’ drive from a position of fear. Pushing employees and having them fear for their job is no way to lead any organization. (I will avoid the obvious political door I just kicked open) There is an overwhelming amount of research that states people will perform at a higher level when they feel supported rather than intimidated. Who wants to go to work in that type of environment anyway? I have no question in my mind that no matter what program, curriculum, or incentives you have in place, if you don’t have a culture that is positive and supportive, you will never reach your full potential as an organization.
- Culture – As I just referenced, the culture of your organization is crucial to success. In today’s world, old style management techniques do not connect with employees. Leaders build a culture of ‘WE’ while managers forge cultures of ‘me’. Leaders are keenly aware of the culture of their organization from a day to day basis. Culture is NOT about one thing but rather about many things that work together with the vision. In schools, great leaders will work to not only recognize all facets of what makes a successful vision but will also make adjustments to those things that do not fit. Yes, leaders will actually STOP doing some things that have been done for a long time if they no longer fit into the vision of the school. But this is not just about recognition, it is about setting up systems that honor the things you respect. Academics, for example, cannot be interrupted constantly for trivial or irrelevant meetings. Activities should be held in just as high acclaim as the traditional love given for athletics. Athletics should continue to be held high…but raise how you celebrate academics to the same level. Teachers are in a tough world, so recognize them for the great things they do every day. Manager, again, won’t do this work. Sure you might get some stale cookies and a make-shift banner for meeting some mundane goal, but you won’t see the same dedication to culture as you’ll see in great leaders.
I have nothing against managers, as I stated before. But if you want sustainable, long term success LEADERS will always eat managers for breakfast! Keep the culture of me, I will take the culture of WE and power it down like a big country breakfast!!
Have a great week! #RoadToAwesome