ON vs. IN: A Distinction Between Leading and Managing

Shifting From What You're Supposed to Do, to What You Should Do

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.

How to Manage the Tension Between Leading and Managing

Three Keys to Keep You Focused

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.

1. Lean toward visionary 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.

We lead people TO somewhere; we are not guardians of the status quo. Click To Tweet

2. Invest in people not just your product

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.

3. Delegate management tasks, but develop empowered leaders

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.

Decision-making authority is what separates delegating tasks from developing leaders. Click To Tweet

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.

If all you give are orders, then all you will get are order takers. Captain Michael Abrashoff Click To Tweet

Question: What step do you need to take to manage the tension between leading and managing?

Resisting the Leader’s Lure Toward Management

Four Insights from Moses Management/Leadership Struggle

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.

Four Insights from Moses’ Management/Leadership Struggle

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.

1. Moses did everything for the people and, as a result, became the lid on his ministry

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?

2. Moses let the present hijack the future

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.

3. Moses’ motive was right but his method was wrong

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?

4. Jethro instilled in Moses a leadership mindset to replace his management methods.

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?

Delegating decision-making authority separates leadership from management. Click To Tweet

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?

Management vs. Leadership

The Traits That Set Them Apart

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.

  • Management is the ability to establish on-going structures, systems, and tasks, and then manage people to complete them.
  • Leadership is the ability to draw potential out of people, and influence them toward a shared vision.

While people tend to naturally operate as one or the other, both leadership and management are necessary in organizations.

  • All Leadership and No Management = Vision without Action
  • All Management and No Leadership = Routine without Risk
  • Leadership and Management = Inspiration plus Execution

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.

leadersvsmanagersIn General…

  • Leadership is about the future, and management is about the present.
  • Leadership is people focused, and management is systems focused.
  • Leadership is about possibilities and dreams, and management is about plans and details.
  • Leadership is about effectiveness, and management is about efficiency.

Question: What other differences would you note between leadership and management?

Chase The Lion

Five Great Insights from Mark Batterson's New Book

lion_book_03-1I 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.

1. Perspective Changes Everything

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?

2. Dreaming Big Reveals What You Believe About God

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.

The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. - Mark… Click To Tweet

3. Cultural Impact Matters

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.

4. Make Chasing, not Retreating, Your Posture

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?

5. Understand Your Greatest Legacy 

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:

  • “When everything is said and done, God isn’t going to say, “Well said,” “Well thought,” or “Well planned.” There is one measuring stick: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Faithfulness is not holding down the fort. Faithfulness is chasing five-hundred-pound lions. There is a brand of religiosity that seems satisfied with breaking even—don’t do this, don’t do that, and you’ll be okay. The problem with that is: you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right” (p. 4)
  • “Mismanaged success is the leading cause of failure. Well-managed failure is the leading cause of success” (p. 22)
  • “Are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?” (p. 28)
  • “Sometimes the greatest opposition to what God wants to do next, comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God did last.” R.T. Kendall (p. 60)
  • “It’s your work ethic plus your prayer ethic that will inch you closer to your dream.” (p. 66)
  • “When we operate in faith, we aren’t risking our reputation. We’re risking God’s reputation! And God can handle Himself just fine, thank you. You may doubt yourself because of your lack of education or lack of experience. But if God has called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.” (p. 82)
  • “An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny!” (p. 93)
  • “We live in a culture that idolizes success and demonizes failure. But in God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying.” (p. 100)
  • “Don’t accumulate possessions; accumulate experiences.” (p. 121)
  • “Don’t seek opportunity; seek God, and opportunity will seek you” (p. 183)
  • “Pride is the first chapter in the book of failure. Humility is the first chapter in the book of success.” (p. 187)
  • “What are you doing today that will make a difference one hundred years from now?” (p. 191)

Check out Chase the Lion today. You’ll be encouraged, inspired, and challenged to dream bigger, go further, and seek God more.

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The Five Traits of a Hard Worker

The Pathway to Becoming a High Performance Achiever

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

Hard Worker Pathway

1. Priorities: Begin with the End in Mind

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.

When we don’t begin with the end in mind, we end up in a place we never had in mind. Click To Tweet

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:

  • What are my organization’s top priorities?
  • What are my greatest strengths?
  • What activities provide the greatest return on my investment of time?

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.

How the Ritz-Carlton Delivers Exceptional Customer Service

Seven Lessons that Make a Difference

Exceptional customer service is a game-changer when building loyalty among clients. I’ve shared the story of our greatest customer experience ever at Disney, and I’ve written about how Disney uses systems to deliver stellar customer service. I recently discovered the same is true of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, widely recognized for providing truly extraordinary customer service to people worldwide.

I recently read The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Lessons for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company by Joseph Michelli. I also sat down with David Cayuela, the General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun, Mexico, and interviewed him about leadership, organizational development, and customer service. From these interactions, as well as our own experiences, I’d like to share seven insights I gleaned about how the Ritz-Carlton deliverers truly exceptional service.

How The-2

1. Organizational Culture

Each staff member at The Ritz-Carlton carries a “Credo Card” that describes the core element’s of the hotel’s organizational culture. I asked a concierge if I could see her Credo Card and she happily said, “I’ll be glad to get you a copy to keep.” She handed me a small, multi-folded Credo Card the size of a business card. The card included six aspects of the organization’s culture:

  • Credo – A creed that describes the Ritz-Carlton’s mission, service, facilities, and experience.
  • Twelve Service Values – Twelve one-sentence values that employees personally own and model. These values begin with the heading, “I am proud to be Ritz-Carlton.”
  • Mystique – A combination of emotion and tradition to create memorable and unique experiences for guests.
  • Three Steps of Service – A concise list of three practical ways to offer exceptional service.
  • Motto – “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”
  • Employee Promise – A description of the Ritz-Carlton’s commitment to its employees and work environment.

Having clarity about these principles, promises, and values sets the tone for the organization’s culture. Nobody has to guess what target the Ritz-Carlton is trying to hit. It’s clear.

Lesson: Healthy organizational cultures are created with intentional clarity about what matters most.

2. Employee Selection

I asked David Cayuela what he considered to be the most essential keys to creating an effective organizational culture. Without hesitation he said, “The selection process.” The Ritz-Carlton doesn’t select employees haphazardly, hoping to fill a vacancy quickly so they can get on with business. They take hiring (known as the selection process) very seriously. It’s not uncommon for the selection process to involve six or seven steps (and even more for management positions and higher). Mr. Cayuela said, “We don’t hire for technical talent but for natural talent.” It’s easier to train technical talent, but natural talent makes the difference. He pointed to being a “team player” as one example of natural talent. A person’s ability to work with a team and reflect the organization’s values has far greater value than any technical skill.

It’s easier to train technical talent, but natural talent makes the difference. Click To Tweet

The Ritz-Carlton also values diversity in the selection process. On one occasion I asked an employee how she enjoyed working for Ritz-Carlton. She said, “I really like it. I’ve worked here for ten years. Other hotels only like to hire younger employees, but the Ritz hires people of every age.”

To help them with the selection process, Ritz-Carlton uses assessment tools from Talent Plus and Gallup. While multiple interviews and assessments require greater patience, this thorough process has proven effective. Joseph Michelli shared the perspective of Susan Strayer, a member of the Ritz-Carlton team: “By choosing the right people in the first place, our turnover is in the 20 percent range in an industry that averages about 60 percent. That payoff alone, not to mention staff morale benefits, is enough to justify our patience” (p. 78). Having an effective hiring process is essential.

Lesson: Create a multi-stage hiring process that is thorough, values based, and leverages helpful assessment tools.