The two words leadership and management are probably the most ambiguous words in the lexicon of the business world. I believe defining these two words are at the heart of the meaning of the work, and success, of a chief executive officer.
As a CEO or senior executive you have to choose your words carefully. It is your job to effectively “launch a thousand ships” and, in doing so, know when to lead and when to manage. I often ask my clients to define the meaning of Leadership and Management. The answers are hardly ever consistent. And my clients have strong differing views! These need to be debated in order to establish a collective understanding and agreement of “how we will manage our company”.
My definition of leadership is about pointing the way; whereas management is how you get to your destination. To use a football analogy, leadership is getting the team fired up before kick-off. Management is selecting the plays and getting the players to execute them in order to move the chains down the field 10 yards at a time. It requires everybody to understand what is being communicated.
The rules of language apply to all levels of management. As a chief executive you need choose a philosophy of management, a language, principles, processes, and structure. You must then practice them for the rest of your professional career, developing an expertise and an ability to lead and manage in a deeply effective way.
I call this the Craft of CEO Management.
CEO Management is the lifelong pursuit of mastery in an executive’s chosen profession. Part of achieving excellence in any profession is the requirement to be precise in the meaning of the language of the profession so that everybody understands what is being said. The profession of management is profoundly poor at this. It is beset with jargon, there is no universal agreement on the definition and collective meaning of words or language, and is laxly applied. The existing vocabulary is continually being undermined by jargon.
We’ve all seen what happens when this happens on the football field – when team members misunderstand what the play call is or what route they are running!
CEO Management requires you to design and manage your company environment to maximize your employees’ understanding of their work, their effectiveness and efficiency. This framework enables them to do their best work. The larger the group of employees, the greater the payback is for doing this. However, the larger the number of employees, the larger the risk of failure if there a clear framework does not exist.
Make the way you choose to manage uniform throughout your company. Give your both your managers and their staff the gift of consistency and clarity of language, principles and process. They will respond with increased effectiveness and productivity.
To learn the language of effective CEOs, check out How Dare You Manage? Seven Principles For Closing The CEO Gap.