We know the value of focusing on the Why, before the How and the What to be successful in any business. Simon Sinek does a great video on the golden circle on this topic. It is indeed critical to know the purpose, and sell the vision and passion that goes with it. Why do you believe in this, and why should others believe in it. The process of the specific steps it takes to build it and the result of the whole process constitute the how and the what.
When we talk about leadership, we often intertwine the leaders and the managers. Good leaders are the ones who focus on what matters and why while good mangers focus on the how. Thus leaders are successful through their ability to influence, and managers are successful through their ability to direct. Often influencing is achieved by inspiring and enabling through passion, advice and counsel. Managers are able to direct through discipline of structure, schedule and organizational command and control.
Many leadership development coaching instructors focus on leading and undermine managing. This is short sighted, because if you don’t execute and manage the vision through to the end result, then the idea is unproven! Or even if you proved the hypothesis, if you can’t scale, and drive down the price and enhance productivity, you wont be creating value.
It is important to establish controls and drive for predictable results. In order to achieve this, managers take a rational approach and a methodical plan of execution. Budgets, schedules, alignment, collaboration is all driven by an effective manager.
The best performing enterprises have behavioural traits of leadership, vision, purpose, inspiration, influence, collaboration supported by the management capabilities of process, measurement, controls and plans.
Its always best to lead first and manage next. And its very important to do both in all situations for a successful organization. So we should not debate lead vs manage, we should instead focus on when to do what.