One of the most compelling definitions of leadership I have come across is in the book Organizational Behavior, by Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge, which says: “Leadership is the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals.” Of the thousands of leadership definitions out there, this one has it all: influence, the group, achieving, and of course, the vision.
What I have come to observe is that most leaders, even great leaders, have the vision and the influence over the group, but many struggle with the achievement aspect of taking their vision from an idea to a reality that benefits their organization.
In most places, this is where management comes into the picture: to enact and achieve results for the organization. Management is dedicated to the planning, execution and closing of projects. Managers are traditionally operating within a structure, living in the near term, and focused on the bottom line. If we can push for a culture of leader-managers, we can expect managers who are empowered to push the envelope and think through tasks and deliverables beyond their project completion, with an eye toward the impact on the organization. This focus requires boldness and innovation. A culture of leader-managers proactively seeks an understanding of the bigger picture and how their task builds the larger vision to support an organization.
If all managers have an expectation to push and innovate while all leaders have an expectation of delivery and follow-through, we would have far more effective organizations serving our communities.
Are you a leader-manager or do you work in an organization of leader-managers? Is the organization thriving?
Jayme Baumgardner is a senior consultant with Corner Alliance, a Washington-based consulting firm that helps government leaders solve their most pressing problems.