My thanks to Marc Burgauer for spotting the discrepancy between my meaning of the words manager/leader and the common understanding. A true act of management. This blog is a pretty much straight up copy of the presentation I gave at the APLN in Autumn 2009. IT is based on this article published on InfoQ.
I have a problem with Leaders and Managers. I have a problem with the idea of anointed / appointed individuals being in control just because they were trusted rather than competent. I own it as my own problem as others do not have this problem.
To me, A leader is someone who engages in acts of leadership. A manager is someone who engages in acts of management. Leader is not a role or job title. Manager is not a role or job title.
- Leaders are the guardians of the future.
- Managers are guardian of the present (or rather the current processes).
So what does a Leader do? What are the Leadership tasks that are needed for a healthy organisation?
- They are responsible for the visionsssss. <– Note plural. Leaders ensure an organisation has options. Unlike leadership at Nokia that killed options for the future and left the company unprepared for failure.
- They prepare the organisation for the unknown. The classic tool here is scenario planning. Talking through scenarios so that the organisation can react when faced with unexpected events.
- They look for new risk and opportunities. They are scanning the environment for options.
- They give us time to react. By making us aware of these options, we have time to prepare.
So what does a manager do? What are the management tasks that are needed for a healthy organisation?
- They facilitate the creation of the process. They don’t own the process. They own the responsibility for the process. To ensure that it is healthy.
- They watch out for broken processes. They look for risk in the process that is unmanaged.
- They look out for gaming. Those that cheat in a transparent way so that the weaknesses of the process can be managed.
- They monitor and manage the known risks and opportunities.
The punch line of the presentation is…
We need fewer leaders.
Thats why I love the work Dan Mezick has been doing using Open Space as a tool to create communities of Leaders and Managers within organisations that want to change.