How to Work Together Without Killing Each Other
Leaders say, “Lets build the plane in the air.” It’s not about charts and hierarchy. Managers simplify complexity and deliver consistent results. “Let’s make a plan.”
You need the people who irritate you to achieve maximum success.
John Kotter on 100 million more leaders:
Over-managed organizations can’t keep up in changing times. Over-led organizations eventually implode.
John Kotter, author of “That’s Not How We Do it Here,” believes the challenge facing organizations that are built around management systems is moving them into a dual system of management and leadership.
Adopt a dual system where the best of leadership and management work hand in hand.
Organizations need both disruption and stability to thrive. The problem is we don’t have good examples where managers and leaders function well together.
3 ways to work together without killing each other:
- Managers and leaders need to understand and appreciate that they come at the world from conflicting perspectives.
- Managers and leaders need to understand and appreciate what they achieve.
- Managers make complex things work.
- Leaders create new things.
- Understand the process of building a dual system.
- Get lots of people involved.
- Avoid another task force.
- Focus on hearts and minds.
- Provide a structure that is more network and startup, not project management.
- Fueling urgency around an opportunity-focus.
- Throw out irrelevant rules.
- Simplify hierarchy.
Kotter in his own words (7:20):
Create a leadership system:
- Avoid formal charts and hierarchy. Traditional management isn’t going to create dynamic leadership systems.
- Work toward networks rather than formal structures.
- Get clear about what a dual system looks like.
- Establish boundaries. Let people know where you’re not going.
- Make things happen faster rather than slower. Adopt a “let’s try it” approach”.
- Establish guiding principles.
Look at startups to catch a vision for dynamic leadership systems.
What prevents managers and leaders from working well together?
How might organizations create dual systems where managers and leaders work together?
Purchase, That’s Not How We Do it Here.
*This post is based on my conversation with John Kotter.
Love the idea of a dual system! Can’t say how critical it is to let people know where you are not going….give freedom within the boundaries and let it grow.
Thanks Heather. You wrote it better than I did. My idea behind letting people where you’re not going is setting boundaries and then letting it grow. Cheers
Yep. Spot-on. Ideas and change come from the periphery of things, where even the edges are fuzzy. But the reality is that not many of us like managing within the chaos. They say that if you are in a small plane and things are going bad, let go and the plane will tend to right itself and fly generally level. Maybe some of those same ideas apply to a well-designed business and that leaders can ask a lot more questions and listen a lot more and even look at the clouds a bit without feeling that need to control everything…
Thanks Dr. Scott. Love the illustration. John said that when you gather ideas, DON’T send them up to the CEO who is a manager. Leave them with the people who generated them in the first place.
I’m not sold on the dichotomy presented here. To assume people in positions that have “leadership” implications (CEO? Division head?) are “better” at leading than people who have job titles that imply manager, “Project Lead”?) is one that I’d like to see the rationale behind. In his book “Traction,” Gino Wickman describes how bottom-line and social “metrics” help move initiatives forward. Others describe “shared leadership,” or “distributed leadership.” Leading and managing happens within all of us no matter our job title. To defer leadership to “those in charge,” and to delegate management to “those who aren’t” is really not consistent with things I’ve read or experienced over the years. Perhaps that is the bigger point here but it did not come across that way-
Thanks Martin. I think we’re on the same page. Titles aren’t relevant in creating a dual structure. As a matter of fact, I think they’re a hindrance.
However, what seems to be missing from your assessment is an acknowledgement of dispositions toward risk-taking and organizational abilities. Both are necessary. To suggest there is no difference is to miss the advantage of diversity. Cheers
Achieving recognition that a dual system is necessary would be a huge hurdle for many organizations. Most of the organizations that I have worked for and with have been over-managed and under-led. A chaotic few were both under-managed and under-led. Accountability systems in place in many public sector organizations tend to foster over-management, but I always kept in mind the adage that “we manage things and lead people.”
Thanks Jim. Brilliant observation. One that makes sense to me. It will take a major shift in thinking to move toward a dual view of organizational life. Kotter believes that our turbulent world is a major motivator toward making the move. A changing world runs over those who don’t change. Cheers
YES! I’ve been a proponent of not using “manager” or “management” as a dirty word in leadership circles. No medium or large organization can operate without “managers” at the mid and lower levels. And the more we empower those managers to actually lead, the better off the organization is.
Managers may not have full freedom to do as they wish, but they can be empowered to lead from where they are IF the top leaders of the org create an environment where they can do so.
I even wrote a post on this: http://www.cooperjason.com/stop-using-manager-as-a-dirty-word/
Thanks Jason. I’m glad you see the recognition that both management and leadership is successful for success. Best
Wow!! This post needs to be forwarded to D.C.!! You should be careful…you may end up on the ballot with posts like this one! 🙂
Thanks Dianna. Too funny! 🙂
Great article, and I do like it, but I’m going to dissent a little bit here, Dan!
One of my bosses, a man I hugely respected, said this:
“Leaders make sure we do the right thing. Managers make sure we do the thing right.Stick your neck out and do both.”
Why duplicate the effort of developing two systems in parallel? Build one killer system!
Thanks Mitch. Your totally right on the focus of leadership and management. If one person can do both well, I say go for it! 🙂 Cheers
As I began to work with the managers in our different locations I thought how do we help the managers become leaders? This is what we came up with: We manage the asset, the tasks, the problems and lead the people. What ever your position – that’s where you lead! People are important and as we deliver the expectation they will accomplish that and more. People are pretty amazing and will take care of managing the task with the right lead.
Managers and Leaders are the two strong pillars of the organization in which the former works on optimazation of resources and later works on ideas to bring the organizational growth and in this strong coordination is required. It will be right here to say Managers Execute and Leaders innovate to gain competitive advantage. These two personality is essentially required in organization for generating maximum output with minimal deviation and cost. I believe that work accomplishment,ideation execution,prasiing team ,trust and ethical consideration are the key factors the managers and leaders must posess in increasing individual as well organization’s brand value.
Thank you for making the distinction so clear.
Here’s a suggestion to make it Cynefin framework compatible:
“Managers make *complicated* things work.
Leaders create new things and way-find through *complex* situations.