Thursday, March 6, 2014

That Weird Space Between Leadership And Management -- And Why It Matters

Leadership managers (LMs) are both leaders and managers. These are second-line managers and above who must:

  • Instruct and motivate people to produce work
  • Monitor and measure their output
  • Take responsibility for success or failure
Many LM's don't even know they are LM's. (And neither do their bosses fully understand what the job means.) And so these crossed wires occur:
  • Assuming too much authority-- then getting shot down when there is resistance or failure, and they lack senior backing
  • Assuming too little authority--then being judged weak or inadequate. 
In a comment in Harvard Business Review's LinkedIn Group, LM expert Greg Weismantel, President and CEO at management consultancy the Epic Group, offers this advice for LMs, about "How To Make The Tough Decisions":

#1: "The bases for any leadership manager are accountability and metrics, and if you don't understand the use of these two concepts then you should never take the risk of making a decision without the authority to do so. 

Meaning: You demonstrate accountability through metrics. If you don't have authority and can't show any outcomes, you are putting your job at risk.

#2: "Assumed Authority" places your own family in jeopardy because by definition it is "Assumed Accountability" which can easily erase your position. 

Meaning: The person who makes an authoritative decision also bears accountability for that decision. If you don't have backing from the leader, don't exert authority.

#3: "Accountability is at the basis for making any decision, not just a tough one....(it) includes three ingredients: the work or issue, authority from a higher level to make a decision on that work or issue, and your own agreement to accept the work & authority."

Meaning: If you don't know what the issue is, you can't make a decision. It's not always clear -- defining the problem accurately requires a drilldown. At that point, you must either ask for or be granted the authority to act. Even then, you must be comfortable actually exercising that authority. (For example, if you're not qualified to act you may defer.)

No matter what stage of your career you're at right now, if you are interested in pursuing an executive career it's important to know the difference between management, leadership management, and the executive tier.

* All opinions my own. No endorsement expressed or implied.