Visionary leadership combined with great management achieves the best results. Seems obvious right? Then why do so many companies get it wrong, especially during times of needed change? A great question and a good answer from Brent Gleeson, writing for Inc.
There are fundamental differences between leadership and management that apply to any team or organization, but the focus of this article is to explore the strengths of each as they apply to leading organizational change.
Generally speaking, management is a set of systems and processes designed for organizing, budgeting, staffing, and problem solving to achieve the desired results of an organization. Leadership defines the vision, mission, and what the “win” looks like in the future. It inspires the team to embody the beliefs and behaviors necessary to take the actions needed to achieve those results.
The most successful transformations occur when strong, visionary leadership converges with great management. Both are required to define a clear path, plan accordingly, and see the mission plan through to fulfillment.
All organizations–large and small–face the need for change now more than ever. And not in a reactive manner but rather a proactive approach that is ingrained in the fabric of the organization’s culture. Last week I wrote an article about developing and properly communicating a powerful change vision. The communication of the vision never ends during the change process and is woven into every aspect of what the leaders and managers do.
But it is important to note the differences in leadership and management, as they relate to the fundamental roles the transformation task force must take on. A transformation task force in this sense is the guiding body developed to lead a company through its transformation. This team must include senior leaders, front-line managers, and other key team members that are well respected in their given fields of expertise.
Most organizations still focus on what is really management development, not true leadership development–although you see it called that all the time. Individuals can, of course, embody qualities of both disciplines, but in my experience, it seems to be rare that you have a great visionary leader who is also an effective manager, and vise versa.
Regardless, all aspects of a powerful change vision must be both led and managed for a successful outcome. I explain more about my leadership philosophies in my free e-books. Here, let’s take a look at the fundamental differences between leadership and management as they apply to organizational change.
Organizational transformation, regardless of how complex or significant, has to start at the top.
Defining and Articulating the Vision
In last week’s article, I defined the six principles for communicating a powerful change vision, which include: keeping the messaging simple and authentic, utilizing multiple channels, being repetitive, ensuring behaviors are consistent with the vision, and gathering feedback along the way.
The vision is what the team can connect with. Visualization of that winning result helps everyone develop a shared sense of purpose and get behind the actions–and even sacrifices–that will be needed to succeed.
Aligning the Team With the Vision
Getting the team aligned with the vision starts with spending the appropriate time and energy developing the right vision. Not just change for the sake of change but true transformative actions that will improve the company and add value to the customers, employees, and shareholders.
Alignment starts at the top. Senior leaders must first make sure they are truly aligned so that their communications and behaviors are authentic and truly embody the vision for change–the old lead-by-example model. Seems simple, but companies get this wrong all the time. The leaders must first believe in the mission before the front-line troops can connect with the cause.
Keeping the Team Motivated and Inspired
Organizational transformations can take a long time. One of the core roles of leaders is to establish and plan for quick wins, which will accomplish several things.
First, quick wins give the team something tangible that proves their sacrifices are driving the change initiatives forward.
Second, quick wins take the wind out of the sails of the naysayers–who can exist at any level of the company, from the board of directors to the front-line troops.
Third, quick wins keep the team motivated and inspired, which is great medicine for the battlefield fatigue they will experience during the transformation process.
Everything mentioned above is imperative to any successful transformation, but it can’t be accomplished without diligent management. It’s management’s role to put the plans into action and measure the progress from start to finish.