Skip to main content

Opinion: We have almost created a culture where the term management is seen as a negative. I believe this is dangerous.

With the rising interest in the field of leadership, the task of management is starting to get a bad name. Organizations don’t look for people with good management skills anymore, they look for leaders. It seems unpopular or not as appealing to say “I’m a manager” as it is to say “I’m a leader”.

In organizations today, leadership has overpowered management as the desired function. I have to be honest in saying I feel more qualified to talk about leadership than I do management. I’m frankly a better leader than I am a manager, but the reality is that good leadership includes a healthy element of good management and vice versa. Both disciplines are equally important for a healthy organization.   (Read my post on Three basic needs of every organization. Management fits in more of the maintenance category of those three and it’s my least favorite of them.)

The problem for the practice of management these days is that it naturally deals with an element of control, which is now seen as a negative. Read the current books and blogs on organizational health.  It is popular to talk negatively about any control issues. Leader types (like me) often rebel against any mention of control in favor of releasing people to dream and explore.

We want environments where team members are free to create, but every team also needs some guidelines and someone who can hold the team accountable to reasonable boundaries it sets for itself. Management’s role in implementing a vision is to ensure tasks and action steps are met. Good management helps the team stay on target. While leadership motivates the team to reach the vision, without management a team will have a lot of dreams but no measurable results. Managers help develop and maintain a structure that allows healthy growth to continue.

Don’t be afraid of good management. If you are a leader, part of your role is also to see that management is in place.  If you aren’t reaching the goals you have for the organization, it may not be a lack of good leadership, it may be a lack of good management.  For smaller teams, one person may have the responsibility for both functions, which is hard for many wired more towards being a leader or a manager type, but great organizations need good leadership and good management.

Have you seen this trend towards embracing leadership to the detriment of management?  How is your organization responding?  Do you see the difference in the two functions?

For further thoughts on this issue, you can read my post about leadership versus management HERE. You may also benefit by our experience learning of the need for structure and management in THIS POST.

Related Posts

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

More posts by Ron Edmondson

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Laurinda says:

    I agree with jcatron above. I love this post Ron. I've been in a situation where there was way too much LEADERSHIP and no management only once. Lots of ideas, but nothing was being maintained.

  • jcatron says:

    Ron, I completely agree and I've written about this a few times as well. Another way to look at management is to consider it stewardship – stewardship of our time, our people and our resources. Stewardship requires us to make smart decisions, to hold others accountable, to make tough choices and to create structures that support the vision. Management is a key dimension of great leadership.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Good add Jenni. I see both of these elements in you…good leadership and good management. Wish I had more of the management skills.

  • Shawn says:

    Great post Ron – I know that the fuel of my leadership has been a direct result of those on my team who have the ability to effectively manage the ideas and vision. In many ways effective leadership needs people who keep things in 'control.' Control is the catalyst that gets an organization to actually reach it's goal. I am glad that pilots have control of planes – it keeps them from crashing 🙂 That is what good management does – it keeps a leader and an organization from crashing.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Yes. Shawn that is critical for my leadership. I have to have people around me who can manage the tasks ahead.

  • Anna Smith says:

    Yes! Hi Ron,
    Just this weekend I read this very interesting post by Jim Stroup: Summarizing the fallacy of individual leadership,
    As a new manager, I often thought, "if I want to be a good leader, I should to this, I can't do that…" – it felt limiting. I also spent a lot of time thinking about myself (=not very effective/constructive).

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks for sharing this. For some reason the comment when to spam, but I'm glad I caught it.

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thanks man! I appreciate your add to the post

  • fmalmeida says:

    Ron – I believe you are so right. Latter leadership literature as given a really bad reputation to management as if managers are the "dead weight" that leaders need to carry. As if management was a necessary evil that a leader as to put up with.
    I have argued for some time that there are elements of management that need to be part of the leader's toolbox, in the same way, that they are skills of leadership that are needed in the manager's toolbox. It's not possible to create a big divider between the two functions in the organization.
    Thanks for the insightful post.

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thanks David. I am realizing this more everyday. Hope to see you again soon!

  • David Foster says:

    Thanks Ron for your insight. We have almost defied leadership as the only thing that matters. Let's face it, without our other hard-working, self-less partners our leadership would look pretty lame!