Leadership vs. Management: Mastering Both Means Knowing When to Apply Each
Utter the phrase "process management" in a room full of leaders, and heads will nod comprehendingly. But ask the same folks how to best manage process, and I suspect you'll get a variety of answers.
There are people who resist what they think of as "process management," because they abhor controls or see themselves as "people oriented." I've also heard too many leaders refer to themselves as "process guys."
In my experience, the trick for leaders is to ensure they're leading people and managing process.
When process managers overstep boundaries by attempting to control critical activities instead of enabling them, that's no longer process management. It's micromanagement. And nobody loves a micromanager.
Micromanagers can annoy the experts responsible for critical tasks, and those experts — being human — may rebel (or worse, apply the perspective of the micromanager over their own), leading processes to collapse.
That's precisely what leaders want to avoid. And it's where the essence of leadership enters the equation.
Trade Authority for Empowerment
Once you have solid processes in place and a system to manage them, all that's left to do is lead the people responsible for execution of critical tasks.
Fortunately, while leadership can be challenging, it's not complex.
The best advice I can give you regarding how to lead experts is to suggest that you look for opportunities to trade your authority for their empowerment.
They're experts, after all. That's why they are responsible for critical activities.
Communicate a vision. Instill values. And get out of the way.
Develop relationships with experts. Learn what turns them on and makes them tick. Ask them questions and really listen to what they have to say. And, above all, make sure they understand you trust them to execute their very important roles.
Effective process management — effective leadership — recognizes that the success of any process rests with those most qualified to perform and complete its critical tasks. With strong leaders and a robust process management system backing them, experts will thrive, and outcomes will impress.
I'm not suggesting you abdicate responsibility. Rather, I'm suggesting you know your role as a leader.
It's still your job to articulate a vision, convince everyone to pursue it, and to inspire everyone to deploy a set of shared values toward solutions when obstacles arise.
For the sake of leadership, though, respect your people enough to recognize this:
Control is not leadership. Management is not leadership.
Only leadership is leadership.
And leaders devote their efforts to vision, values, and inspiration.
The next time you hear someone tell you to lead people and manage processes, don't make the mistake of believing managers can't be leaders. Smart managers use process management as the driver behind critical activities. They allow experts to address the most important steps in any process.
They understand the differences between process management and leadership. They exercise both to create new, expert leaders within their organizations. They free themselves to innovate, to focus on creating competitive advantage, and to leverage diversity of thought for continuous improvement.