Today and tomorrow (November 25 & 26, 2016), three of my books are on Kindle for only $0.99 each. Check them out here:
- Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans
- Go! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution
- Creating Your Church’s Culture
Today and tomorrow (November 25 & 26, 2016), three of my books are on Kindle for only $0.99 each. Check them out here:
Management and leadership are uniquely different. In previous articles I’ve shared the traits that set management and leadership apart, how to manage the tension between the two, and how leaders can resist the lure toward management. Both leadership and management are essential in an organization. Without management, there will be vision without action. Without leadership there will be routine without risk. But with leadership and management, there will be inspiration plus execution.
Another critical distinction in the leadership/management tension is the all too familiar ON vs. IN. Leaders have a responsibility to work ON the organization. They work at the 30,000 foot level, leading with a unique perspective on the organization, and charting a course toward a brighter future. Leaders work ON the organization, endeavoring to help it grow, expand, and multiply.
Managers, on the other hand, work IN the organization. They spend their time ensuring systems and processes are functioning efficiently. They keep the team focused on the day-to-day task at hand. They don’t look up to see where we’re going; instead, they make sure we’re doing what needs to be done to get where the leader said we’re going.
When leaders get bogged down with the IN, they abdicate their responsibility to work ON. Both are important, but ON is the priority for leaders.
If you were once a manager (and now you’re a leader), you’ll especially find yourself tempted to drift back into management mode. The goal of management is to do what we’re supposed to do; the goal of leadership is to do what we should do. One focuses on the past while the other focuses on the future. You can work IN for a season, but in the long-run you’ll drift into predictable mediocrity. You’ll get stuck. Progress will cease.
Leaders lead with a vision for the future, not a system for sameness. Leaders determine what’s next, what’s new, and what’s not. That doesn’t mean that people don’t need systems. Systems actually help you better manage the chaos that organizations experience when they’re growing. But if systems dictate the future, innovation will quickly go by the wayside. Leaders innovate. They work ON not IN.
There are clear differences between management and leadership (here are several traits that set them apart). Unfortunately, too many leaders operate as managers (Moses is one such leader who who was distracted by the pressing needs of the day, and lost sight of his call to lead the Israelites into the future). As leaders, we have to resist the lure toward management.
Let me make one thing clear: organizations need both, leaders and managers. Truth be known, most leaders/managers are a mix of both. But if you are responsible for moving your organization or department forward – to a better future – then you need to shift from management mode to leadership as much as possible. Here are three keys to help you manage the tension between management and leadership.
Management-driven organizations are usually driven by the past…this is how we do things around here. We are not called to manage the past. We are called to lead people to a God-inspired future. If all we do is manage what we already do, eventually what we do will no longer be relevant. We lead people TO somewhere; we are not guardians of the status quo.
When we focus solely on our product, we tend to run over people and use people. At the end of the day, we get a lot done but leave people drained, depleted, and ultimately resentful toward us, and the organization. Your product is important, but people are more important. Become a people developer.
We have to hand off tasks to other people; we cannot do it all. The most inspiring tasks we can hand off to others are those that stretch them, grow them, and release them. When Jethro instructed Moses to select capable men, appoint them as leaders, and hand off responsibility to settle disputes among the Israelites (Exodus 18), he also handed off the authority for these leaders to carry out their job. Decision-making authority is what separates delegating tasks from developing leaders.
Exodus 18:22 says, “…Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.” As Captain Michael Abrashoff once said, “If all you give are orders, then all you will get are order takers.”
Regardless of where you find yourself in your organization, these tips should help you lead better. If you have responsibility for leading a department, team, or major initiative, you’ll need to resist the lure to function solely as a manager.
Question: What step do you need to take to manage the tension between leading and managing?
Both leadership and management are necessary in organizations (I recently shared what sets leaders and managers apart). However, leaders often find themselves drifting toward managing when they need to be leading. This happened to Moses.
When Moses was leading the children of Israel, he slipped into a management mode that debilitated his effectiveness. He did all the work, had all the meetings, and managed all the details.
Moses had an enormous calling. God was using him, but Moses was sinking fast. He was in over his head, and Jethro, his father-in-law, knew it. We glean four insights from Moses management/leadership struggle.
Exodus 18:14 (NLT) says, “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”
Without even realizing it, Moses had slipped into management mode. He was doing everything for the people. Moses became the lid – the bottleneck – in his efforts to meet the needs of the people he was called to lead. “Doing for” replaced “delegating to.” Question: Have you become the lid to your organization?
Moses became distracted by managing the needs of the present, and he lost sight of his responsibility to lead the people toward God’s vision for the future. When asked why he was doing what he was doing, Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions” (Exodus 18:15-16).
Moses did everything but the one thing he should have done. He didn’t lead. The people determined the agenda rather than Moses. As a result, Moses couldn’t see the forest for the trees. His perspective was hijacked, along with the future. Question: Is your focus on the present hijacking your organization’s future.
I believe Moses genuinely had the right motive. He wanted to serve the Israelites and meet their needs. Even Jethro made this observation. Exodus 18:17-20 says, “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives.”
Notice two things in this passage. First, Moses said, “This is not good.” In other words, Moses’ method wasn’t working. He was headed straight for burnout. But then Jethro followed it up with, “You should continue…” He helped Moses prioritize what was most important: representing the people to God, teaching God’s decrees, modeling a godly life. Moses was doing the right thing, but his most important leadership priorities were deluded by management methods. Question: Is your method for leading broken?
Thankfully Moses didn’t leave Moses to figure out a game plan alone. He didn’t just point out his problem, he coached him toward a brighter future. Exodus 18:21-26 says, “But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves.
Jethro stepped in with instructions, replacing Moses’ management methods with a leadership mindset. He was to select capable men, appoint them as leaders, and then “let them decide” (v. 22). How often do we forget to let our teams decide? Delegating Decision-making authority separates leadership from management. As Captain Michael Abrashoff once said, “If all you give are orders, then all you will get are order takers.” Question: Has your leadership mindset been replaced by management methods?
Moses was lured toward management, but God sent Jethro to point him back to the role God designed him to fill. If God has called you to lead, what changes do you need to make to keep from drifting into management mode?
There’s a great deal of talk today about management and leadership. Bookshelves grow larger as more authors pump the market full of management and leadership books. There are more blogs, podcasts, and webinars on the subjects than ever before. But what is the difference between management and leadership, and what sets them apart from each other?
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of definitions of management and leadership. There are also lists that compare the differences (which we’ll look at in a moment), but let me begin with two basic definitions.
While people tend to naturally operate as one or the other, both leadership and management are necessary in organizations.
So if leadership and management are both essential in an organization, what are the differences? ResourcefulManager.com recently put together this helpful info graphic that points to 17 distinct differences.
Question: What other differences would you note between leadership and management?
I just finished reading Mark Batterson’s new book, Chase The Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small. Batterson has written several books (including The Circle Maker, All In, and If). What I enjoy about Battersons’ books is his continual three-fold emphasis on faith, courage, and prayer. After each book I’m always inspired to dream bigger, pray harder, and stretch further. Plus, as a church planter, pastor, and writer, I resonate with much of Mark’s story. His stories and experiences are encouraging and challenging.
Chase the Lion is a sequel to In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. It’s the story of Benaiah, King David’s bodyguard, and David’s 37 mighty men. “Chase the Lion” is synonymous with chasing your dreams. For me, five insights from the book challenged me the most.
Perspective is a difference-maker in life, and as a leader your perspective has a ripple effect in the people you lead. Batterson writes, “If you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll always find one. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’ll always find one” (p. 5). So what are you looking for? What’s the default response of your attitude toward your circumstances?
Batterson does a great job drawing the best out of people. He tells stories that inspire, and his church planting experience inspires me to always envision a bigger, better, brighter future. He writes, “The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. Is He bigger than your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest mistake? Is He able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine?” (p. 8) I never want to be guilty of dreaming too small, risking too little, and playing it too safe.
I love Mark’s emphasis on the value found in leading and serving in the various streams of culture. He tells the story of a 20th Century Fox producer who called several presidents of prominent Christian colleges in the 1930s, seeking screenwriters who could produce films with a redemptive message. In Mark’s words, “One president wrote back and said he’d sooner send his young people to hell itself than send them to Hollywood” (p. 16). What a missed opportunity. I appreciate Mark’s commitment to rally leadership in every area of culture, whether business, arts, media, government…you name it; it matters. Not many pastors communicate this message regularly and passionately; thankfully, Mark does.
I love the fact that the lion wasn’t chasing Benaiah, but Benaiah was chasing the lion. That’s a powerful and challenging lesson. Batterson writes, “We celebrate Benaiah because he came out of the lion’s den alive, and that’s an amazing feat, but it’s not the most amazing part of the story. It’s not coming out that is courageous; it’s going in” (p. 100). Are you chasing or retreating? What dream has God inspired within you for His glory?
Batterson writes, “Your greatest legacy isn’t your dream. Your greatest legacy is the next generation of dreamers that your dream inspires—the dreams within a dream” (p. 13). This is a common theme throughout the book. Mark challenges his readers to honor their upline (those who have invested in them) and empower their downline (those who come after them). This is a great insight, and if leaders embrace this truth it can have profound, generational outcomes. Batterson summarizes this idea when he writes, “Your legacy isn’t your dream. Your legacy is leveraging the dreams of those who come after you. Your legacy is your downlines—those you parent, mentor, coach, and disciple. You may not influence a million people, but who knows? You may influence one person who influences a billion people” (p. 162).
I hope these lessons are as encouraging to you as they were to me. Mark writing is enjoyable, and his insights are helpful, inspiring, and practical. Here are a few more of my favorite quotes:
Check out Chase the Lion today. You’ll be encouraged, inspired, and challenged to dream bigger, go further, and seek God more.
I want to serve my readers in the best possible way. The greatest way I can do that is to know a little more about you. That’s why I’ve created my 2016 Reader Survey. If you would take a moment to answer ten quick questions, it would be deeply appreciated.
Completing my reader survey will help me develop better content to serve your needs. It’s easy, fast, and the results are completely anonymous. Your input is valuable and appreciated. Just click the link below to get started. Thanks for your help.
Almost everybody would consider themselves to be a hard worker. After all, who wants to admit that they’re a slacker, or the weakest link on a team. The reason most people perceive themselves to be hard workers is because of the number of hours they put into their job. And yes, many of us put in many hours. But are hours the only indicator of what it means to be a hard worker? Does how you work, not just how many hours you work, contribute to what hard work really looks like?
As I’ve reflected on what it means to be a hard worker, certain qualities come to mind. Each of these qualities are more than stand alone traits, but rather part of a pathway to becoming a high performance achiever. They exhibit the core of a strong work ethic, and the ability to get things done.
The Hard Worker Pathway begins not with the path, but with the ultimate destination. Being a hard worker starts by having the right priorities. It doesn’t do much good to work hard toward a destination that doesn’t matter. When we don’t begin with the end in mind, we end up in a place we never had in mind.
To help you establish the right priorities, practice the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule says that 80% of your outcomes are the result of 20% of your causes. In other words, 20% of your activity will deliver 80% of your impact. Or, 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales. Or, 20% of your products and services will account for 80% of your profits. Or, 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the value you add to the organization.
To practice the 80/20 Rule, create a list of everything you do at work (there may be dozens of activities). Then, choose the 20% of the items on your list that have the greatest impact on the organization. Finally, invest as much time as possible in the top 20%, realizing they will likely produce 80% of your results. If you’re trying to figure out how to identify your top 20%, ask yourself three questions:
Where your answers to these three questions intersect should give you a clue to your top 20%. Look for ways to delegate or outsource the remaining tasks. Many of them may simply be time-wasters that you should stop doing.