Consider the readings and lectures this week; analyze a leader versus a manager. Utilizing an organization you know well, does your organization have a majority of leaders or managers? Does this matter for organizational success?
Wow, it’s hard to find a more compelling distinction between a leader and manager than what Simon Sinek describes in his “Why good leaders make you feel safe.” Ted Talk. (Sinek, 2014)
Like Simon Sinek states, manager’s exercise influence and subordinates do what they say because as a manager they possess authority. “Leadership is choice; it is not a rank.” (Sinek, 2014) Leaders look after others, putting the needs of others above their own needs. “We call them leaders because they go first. We call them leaders because they take the risk before anybody else does. We call them leaders because they will choose to sacrifice so their people can feel safe and protected, so that their people may gain.” (Sinek, 2014)
I like the idea that “managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence.” (Nayar, 2014) This idea got me thinking about another Simon Sinek talk entitled “Why Reciprocity Improves Mentor Mentee Relationships” (Sinek, 2012) which lead me to another Sinek talk entitled “The best leaders are the best followers.” (Sinek, 2016) which echoes some of the same sentiments expressed in Sinek’s “Why good leaders make you feel safe.” Ted Talk, but I think he really highlights the importance of gratitude and humility, and how a leader views themselves as working in service to something greater than themselves. (Sinek, 2016)
I think it’s clear that traits like gratitude, humility, and courage are essential leadership traits. Leaders look to influence and inspiration while managers rely on power and control. (Nayar, 2014) Let’s face it, in any organization leaders are hard to come by and make up a small percentage of the people. Many people think they are leaders, but they rely on ascribed status rather than achieved status. Being a leader is a selfless pursuit and selflessness is hard. I read the book “Leadership is hell: How to manage well – and escape with your soul” (Asghar, 2014) this week and there were some great nuggets of wisdom that I think tells a story; the difference between leaders and managers and the difference between leaders and followers. I thought I would share some of the passages that I highlighted with you.
“good leaders seek to express themselves, while bad leaders seek to prove themselves.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1323-1324)
“A person driven largely by a need for respect will only be able to show up occasionally, when sufficiently outraged—and for only as long as doubters are making themselves heard.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1331-1332)
“In this view, a person who focuses too much on ‘doing’ would anxiously perform a never-ending series of hoop-jumps in order to feel substantial. If she were ever to stop doing those hoop-jumps, she would quickly lose her sense of worth. That indeed is a prescription for misery.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1405-1407)
“If you’re a people-pleaser, you’ll find it impossible to be content merely expressing yourself. You won’t even know what that looks like. You’ve been too busy sensing what would impress other people, then seeking to do that to the exclusion of everything else.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1430-1432)
I’ve observed each of these profiles within my organization. The true leader who possess humility, who is passionate and confident enough to express themselves and be selfless. The leader who is seeking to prove themselves, often driven by a need for respect, who lacks self-confidence and relies on ascribed status and power for control. A taskmaster, who finds security in the execution never-ending mundane tasks. The people pleaser who can’t lead because they can’t express themselves.
“Don’t ask what the world needs,” Thurman said. “Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1480-1482)
Leaders feel alive when they are working in service of something bigger than themselves.
Leadership is a critical component of organizational success. In the context of this weeks reading, I would say that managers would be classified as transactional leaders while true leaders are transformational leaders. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 196) Why do I think leadership is so crucial for organizational success? There is some overlap with discussion post one in this comment, but if you believe that organizations need more than ever the ability to navigate a “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment” (Dartey-Baah, 2015), which I do, the need for leadership is paramount.
Asghar, R. (2014). Leadership is hell: How to manage well – and escape with your soul. Los Angeles, CA: Figueroa Press.
Dartey-Baah, K. (2015). Resilient leadership: A transformational-transactional leadership mix. Journal of Global Responsibility, 6(1), 99-112. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.portal.lib.fit.edu/docview/1675140305?accountid=27313
Nayar, V. (2014, August 07). Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2013/08/tests-of-a-leadership-transiti
Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.
Sinek, S. (2016, September 28). Simon Sinek: “The best leaders are the best followers”. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://youtu.be/V5wtzze9L_M
Sinek, S. (2012, November 24). Simon Sinek: Why Reciprocity Improves Mentor Mentee Relationships. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrWg1qy2WNI
Sinek, S. (2014, March). Why good leaders make you feel safe. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe#t-138365 TED 2014
Juan, you mention that you think that leadership through influence and management via ascribed authority have the same outcome. Do you mean the same outcome regarding meeting a tactical goal of the organization or the same outcome in the macro sense of the word outcome?
When I think of a manager, I think of someone marshaling or task mastering people towards a goal, the focus is on the tactical execution and ensuring that there is no dissatisfaction. Sure people absorb knowledge along the way, they become more efficient, and a well-managed team can drive good linear growth over time which probably says they are exceeding expectations and being well managed. I am sure that there are many businesses where this is a win, where solid tactical and authoritative management delivers the goals of the organization. Where I struggle is I am not sure that these organizations possess the high performing cultures that will make them competitive with those looking to disrupt them. For example, Amazon is a disruptor; I am sure there were tons of good managers at Walmart, they were the incumbent, with scale and yet they needed Jet even to try to make a run at Amazon after being disrupted. After Walmart acquired the company that was going to help them take on the disruptor, they began disrupting the culture that they identified as their hope, pretty strange, and the disruption of a giant like Walmart is probably more about the ability to acquire the human capital who will develop a better mousetrap. Walmart has plenty of management but fails to realize it’s the culture and the legacy which anchors them to yesterday that is creating the opening for a disruptor like Amazon, this is emphasized by the changes instituted at Jet post-Walmart acquisition, some of which have been repealed. (Howland, 2017) Culture is critical in today’s market and leaders marshall the culture. I don’t believe that today’s market leaders who are looking for a combinatorial explosion, not linear or even exponential growth accept the idea of “the same general outcome”. I think they look for greatness; I think they look for the last hire to be the best hire they ever made. I read “The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon” (Stone, 2014) and what is Amazing about Jeff Bezos is how relentless he is (a bit of triva, go to http://relentless.com and see where it redirects you). The Amazon Leadership Principles (Amazon’s global career site, n.d.) tell a story about what Amazon expects from their employees, management by authority just can’t deliver this culture. The same can be said of Netflix where hard work is not relevant, but sustained A-level performance, despite minimal effort, is rewarded with more responsibility and great pay. (Hastings, 2009, p. 35) Listening to the story of the Netflix culture and Patty McCord drives home the idea of a high-performing culture and the expectations. (Henn, 2015)
In my opinion, leaders inspire leadership and a desire to innovate, they seek to do things like “put a ding in the universe” (Steve Jobs), while managers look to execute a defined plan. To a manager on-time delivery is a fixed point in time, to a leader time is relative and the expectation is that execution will improve as those who are executing innovate more effective and efficient ways to deliver.
Amazon’s global career site. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.amazon.jobs/principles
Henn, S. (2015, September 03). How The Architect Of Netflix’s Innovative Culture Lost Her Job To The System. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/437291792/how-the-architect-of-netflixs-innovative-culture-lost-her-job-to-the-system
Hastings, R. (2009, August 01). Culture. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664/netflix
Howland, D. (2017, June 27). Cultures clash in the aftermath of Walmart’s e-commerce acquisitions. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.retaildive.com/news/cultures-clash-in-the-aftermath-of-walmarts-e-commerce-acquisitions/445917/
Stone, B. (2014). The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon. New York: Back Bay Books.