Are You Managing, Leading or Doing Both?

See SawCareer development is a series of phases.  The first step is to learn to manage you.  This means learning to take control of your time, make good decisions and improve your communication skills.  The next phase is where you start to move into managing others.  In this phase you will start to take responsibility for building effective teams and managing multiple priorities for you and your team.  Then you move into leading others.  This is where you start to move beyond just managing tasks and responsibilities to setting a vision for others to follow.  As you advance towards this phase it is important to take the time to develop your leadership skills.

Peter Drucker says it best “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”  Yet you don’t completely drop managing as you start leading.  You still have to be in control of your behavior and you may still need to direct the actions of others.  Becoming a leader doesn’t mean you stop managing it means you add new responsibilities to your plate.

Too often managing is treated as an ugly behavior that adds little value to people or organizations.  This is maligning a much needed function in business.  All activities have quality levels that must be maintained and customer demand to meet.  Someone must keep an eye on the details of getting things done on time and on budget.  This is the role of a manager.  The title for this person maybe supervisor, project manager, manager, director or some other option.  Yet the role is critical to the success of the organization.

Leading and managing don’t have to be mutually exclusive and probably shouldn’t be treated separately.  Leaders need to set the direction and the vision for what people will be doing.  Part of that includes setting expectations for what success looks like for the team.  These are guidelines the managers and people can use to determine what needs to be done and when.  Leaders who ignore the importance of those parameters will leave their team struggling to meet the leader’s vision.

Managing people without paying attention to the needs of the team is a dictatorship.  To successfully manage it is important to take the time to understand the people on the team, what motivates them, enable them to see the purpose of what they are doing and help them achieve their goals.  This will drive engagement, improve quality and productivity, all things good managers want to achieve.  These are a result of leading the team more than just managing results.

Take the time to pay attention to the people and the business results improve.  If leaders focus solely on making the people happy it can lead to a decline in business results.  When you have more than one person working on something there will be complexity and complications that must be dealt with to ensure productivity.  This isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a function of human nature.  The trick is to balance an engaging and inspiring workplace with one that produces to customer expectations.  This means businesses need managers and leaders, and in particular people who can wear both hats at the same time.

How do you balance the goals of the organization with the needs of the people?  Do you find it difficult to lead people and manage results?


Filed under Leadership, Personal Development

13 responses to “Are You Managing, Leading or Doing Both?

  1. Thanks Tina! Glad you liked it.

  2. Great post Carol. I completely agree, the trick is to balance an engaging and inspiring workplace with one that produces to customer expectations. In order to do this well, we need tools and lots of practice. Leaders understand that, invest leadership development, and provide the necessary structure to share clear expectations around the vision/mission, communicate effectively, and enable consistent action towards the accomplishment of the mission.

    • So true Al! Practice is a key as well as an environment where results at any cost are not the measure a manager/leader’s performance. Getting results by actually encouraging and leading others are more sustainable yet can be slow in developing. That change is hard but necessary for long-term growth.

  3. Finally – Someone gets it. Well done. Great article Carole. Managing and leading are one in the same. You need to do both well to be successful. (They are intertwined) Thank you,

  4. Excellent post Carol! Yes! It’s so important to do both, manage and lead! Set clear expectations to the team; it’s okay to have high expectations! And lead by example and lead others to huge success.

  5. Hi, Carol – like others, I enjoyed this post:)

    I just wish we could get past this discussion, which has been going on for a long, long time now. Your perspective, which recognizes the need for and value of both functions, makes the most sense to me.

    Upon a little more reflection, I guess everyone is on their own journey and value does come from reflecting on this question, especially for those who are new to the authority that comes with being “The One Ahead”.

    At any rate, you got it just perfect:)


    • John – Thanks for your comments. I too wish we could move past the thought that these are separate and mutually exclusive roles. They both are important to the life of an organization.

      In my mind it’s a bit of an evolution, you manage yourself, you manage others then you begin leading others. At least in a more formal sense. Many people start leading before they ever really manage others.

      The reality is that all organizations need managers who can inspire and engage their teams however there needs to be a leader at the top who is setting the direction for everyone. This is a unique role which means people may keep seeing leaders as different than managers.

      I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Have a great day!


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