By Anne Evenson
People often confuse management and leadership, but they are not synonymous. One role is not more important than the other, and every organization needs people who excel in both capacities.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker, Management consultant, educator and author
Business leaders and entrepreneurs must often pivot between multiple responsibilities and require knowledge and expertise in areas that frequently intersect. Whether you’re transitioning into a leadership position or starting your first business, understanding the significance of expert management and strong leadership will help your company prosper and thrive.
Management is the science of directing and coordinating human efforts to achieve an organization’s strategic objectives. Managers are generally present in all areas within organizations, including finance, accounting, human resources, marketing, sales, customer service, operations, IT and numerous other departments. Management processes and policies influence all employees since everyone is either a manager or subordinate to a manager or both. The principles managers use to lead people and solve problems revolve around Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling.
Planning entails setting objectives and determining a plan of action to accomplish those objectives. Managers should remain aware of their industry environment and any related contingencies that could affect their organization, such as competition, economic conditions and customer expectations. They must also use current business data to forecast possible future situations. To implement their plan, managers establish timelines for completion and identify alternative courses of action should obstacles arise. Managers usually take the lead in tactical and operational planning for an organization. Tactical planning, often carried out over one to three years, breaks down an organization’s strategic plan into smaller, actionable goals with fixed deadlines. For example, suppose an organization aims to provide housing benefits to ten thousand military veterans in one year. The home loan manager’s tactical plan might include offering veterans mortgage interest discounts or zero down payment home loans to encourage participation. Operational planning is short-term and focuses mainly on required steps and actions to implement the tactical plan. To ensure that veterans and their families know about these benefits, a communications manager may implement an operational plan detailing specific marketing activities like radio and TV ads, emails and social media advertising.
At the highest level, organizing concerns establishing an organizational structure and allocating personnel to ensure the completion of all objectives through group and individual responsibilities and duties. This framework is represented by an organizational chart, which depicts the organization’s hierarchy. There are many ways to organize workgroups, commonly called departments or teams, including defining by product, geography or function.
Leading describes how managers use sources of influence to motivate people to take specific actions. Managers who lead with emotional intelligence and take the time to understand each worker’s personality, values, and emotions can communicate effectively and persuasively. This type of personal leadership energizes workers and inspires them to exert the necessary effort to attain organizational objectives.
Controlling ensures that the three previous functions of planning, organizing, and leading align with the organizational objectives. Managers must establish performance standards, measure employee performance against the standards and take corrective action when necessary. Performance standards are often indicated in financial terms such as revenue, costs or profits. However, they may also be expressed as net units produced, the number of defective products or quality control levels. Managers can measure performance in several ways, including sales reports, marketing analytics, production results, customer satisfaction and formal performance appraisals.
Managers are trusted to make crucial decisions related to building and executing plans that affect organizational outcomes. Successful managers are confident, decisive, focused, empathetic and creative. Savvy supervisors have the skills to resolve interpersonal conflicts and misunderstandings among their team members and are adept at dealing with difficult people. They develop their workers’ talent through continual professional development and always show initiative.
Leadership is the art of compelling a group of individuals to attain a common goal through social influence. Leaders are customarily present at the top of the organizational chart as senior executives, although a job title alone does not confer a true leader’s qualities and competencies.
Every great leader has a clear vision for their organization which they use to influence others toward a collective result. Strong leaders clearly and passionately communicate their beliefs, values and goals with a vision statement that describes the organization’s desired future state in an aspirational way. Everything an organization does or says should align with the vision statement. This overarching goal ensures that the organization delivers consistent messages, products and services. For example, Reshma Suajani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, was running for U.S. Congress in 2012 when she noticed that the schools along her campaign route lacked girls in the computer science classrooms. This disparity inspired her to create the international nonprofit organization that excites, educates, and equips girls with the skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities to close the gender gap in technology. The values that define this organization are bravery, sisterhood and activism.
Leaders establish an organizational structure to determine how workflow, accountability and authority will work together to help the organization achieve its mission. A vertical organization employs a top-down, direct chain of command with a narrow center of power that cascades down to widening subordinate levels. A horizontal organization is a compressed pyramid with decentralized authority and fewer levels. This flat structure still has a leader or chief executive to make strategic decisions. However, managers and employees typically operate across functional departments among teams who have more autonomy with no hierarchical relationship across groups.
Strong leaders stay focused on the long-term strategic success of their organization. Strategic planning involves analyzing an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, followed by planning for competitive positioning and faster growth based on that analysis. An organization’s strategic plan is usually predicated on its mission. Leaders conduct this planning over a long time frame, often three years or more into the future.
Everyone’s heard the phrase, “there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” Successful leadership stems from confidence, commitment and integrity, not merely authority or power. Great leaders are dependable, compassionate and self-aware. They understand how to lead by example and show gratitude to those who follow in their footsteps.
All successful organizations have inspirational leaders who take risks and chart new paths to success, but without great managers to carry out their vision, they probably wouldn’t get very far. Emerging leaders and entrepreneurs who understand how these two critical roles work together will achieve long-lasting success and prosperity.
Anne Evenson is a marketing specialist and copy editor working in Austin, Texas. She holds a BFA in Fibers and Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute.
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