“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing” Peter F. Drucker credited as a leading figure in the practical foundations of the modern business.
The leadership versus management debate continues to divide opinion across the business world. Some swear by leaders, stating they are born not bred, while others see the significance of managers and the potential for someone to draw on both talent sets. Within the number of politically correct articles in corporate circles on the differences between managers and leaders, only one thing rings completely true; there is, and always will be, a clear distinction between the two. The importance, however, lies in understanding the difference. Not only will individuals appropriately apply each technique when the moment calls for it, but firms will also benefit from better internal decision making.
More often than not, among the abundance of scholarly books, thought leadership pieces and articles on the matter, the underlying difference between the two terms is that managers run the day-to-day operations and the people within them, while leaders guide their people by ‘doing’, hoping to inspire through ever changing daily objectives and challenges. In essence, managers are responsible for the results, and leaders, are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.
Prior to the distinction, the ‘traditional’ management style kept the cogs turning and the machine moving. However, more recently, the ability to inspire and understand emotions has thrown a spanner in the works. The softer skills associated with leadership are increasingly singled out attributes by business leaders. In a recent survey by a fellow search firm, Egon Zhender, CEOs recognised that developing the ‘softer skills’ is essential to successful leadership, and at the same time, the ability to adapt and change oneself is also important.
Currently, in a progressively open office space, good leadership rests upon a two-way teaching and learning environment; the cultivation of trust with your people and an ability to self-reflect and improve.
What’s more, within an ever-evolving workplace – driven by technology – firms are looking for individuals who can inspire their people towards adaptability. Innovative software enabling trendy work initiatives such as working from home and high-tech workspaces powered by new technology are just two factors producing an entirely different work environment with new challenges for business leaders.
For these reasons, top executives are looking for digitally savvy and people centric individuals who can successfully enact the company’s strategy and vision.
This is not to say there is no place for managers in the new work environment. Equally, in the current climate, firms are also looking to employ managers who are able to take hold of innovative technological systems and produce the regular, constant and profitable results which always existed. Essentially, returning to the tried and tested ‘cog in the machine’ method.
Yet, within the insurance sector client mandates are still well mixed. A potential side effect of the industry’s adverse nature to change has produced an equal demand for both skill sets. Neither leadership nor management is unimportant, instead, each quality is appropriate given the position, business and market conditions.
At Eames Partnership, we pride ourselves on our ability to differentiate between the capabilities of leaders and managers. In addition to researching the client and the market, we apply our extensive industry expertise to state-of-the-art psychometric testing ensuring the best candidate is found.
In an increasingly competitive world, where the wrong business decisions can stagnate a firm’s progress and where business leaders are expected to understand the difference between managers and leaders, those who are able to employ the correct individual with the right traits will avoid unwanted cost.
For more information on the matter or to find out about our services please contact Stuart White, Senior Partner; firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Egon Zhender, The CEO: A Personal Reflection, 2018