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5 Outdated Concepts of Leadership and Management

Management. Leadership. Are they the same?
Graphic Showing Asking Question and Presenting OutcomeAnd what's going on with leadership development? Seems like more people get more opportunities, even if they're not managers. What's that all about?  Great questions. Important ones, too, if you plan to be in the workforce another five or more years. When it comes to leadership and management, change is already underway. And it's a change that will impact everyone. 

Popular Concepts of Leadership and Management Affirm that There's a Difference between the Two

Being a manager is not the same as being a leader.

The words "leader" and "manager" are not synonyms. 

In organizations, the words are used interchangeably. Often, a senior-level manager begins to be called a leader or becomes part of of the "leadership team." 

This misconception confuses people when it comes to understanding what it means to be a leader. Being a leader has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with having a manager title or position of seniority on the org chart. That's one hundred percent about management titles and roles. 

Leadership at every level is what current research and top employers support. To be a leader simply means you exhibit leadership behaviors that inspire others and drive change. It's nice when the person doing that is also a manager... But the title alone won't inspire others to join in on a change initiative. 

The Biggest Changes: 5 Concepts of Leadership and Management that Are Now Outdated

Let's start with managers. Senior managers, mostly, who need to take stock of three ideas related to who leads, who manages, and how both impact the business. 

1. You don't build a business. You build people, and they will build the business. As a consultant, I'm shocked by how few executives understand this fundamental truth. They issue edicts to improve profitability, to advance projects and programs, or to improve processes. They focus on the bottom line. They ignore people development or approve some check-the-box training and tracking programs that make no difference at all. 

2. If it's lonely at the top, you're doing something wrong. Get out of the ivory tower. Talk to people across the organization, to customers, to vendors and to your peers and competitors in other businesses. If you're enveloped in an echo chamber, relying on others to filter information and spoon feed it to you, then you're not getting the truth. You're not getting involved enough to see the impact of your decisions. And you're not getting connected with the people you need to build (the ones who will build the business). 

3. It's time to replace command-and-control with heart-and-soul leadership. People may spring into action when you're around. They may follow the rules. They may even perform at the level of acceptable standards. But times are changing. The war for talent is heating up. You need engaged employees to remain competitive. Employee engagement starts with an emotional connection. Autocratic management styles are no longer effective. 

4. Leadership can be learned. Leadership, in fact, should be learned-- by anyone who wants to lead, not just by those in management. We all lead, and we all have the abilities (already inside us) to be effective when we lead.

5. Promotions into management should be based on leadership, not technical expertise. Technical abilities don't translate into management capabilities. Just the opposite. Top technicians are often unhappy in management because they are expected to do so many other things. Many fail as managers because they are unable or unwilling to move out of technician mode. On the other hand, those who are leading (sans title!) have the makings of managers who can inspire others. 

How Will Concepts of Leadership and Management Continue to Evolve? 

At a time when teams and hubs and matrixed organizations are requiring leadership to spring up situationally, everyone should be working on their own leadership abilities. Don't wait for a title before learning to lead

The evolution of leadership and management is dependent on the evolution of people in the workplace. Research tells us that more people want to lead. So why not go ahead and lead? Today. Right now. Influence and inspire in the circle closest to you.

Not sure what it means to lead or how to go about doing it? Here's a good starting point -- sign up for this 8-part course for emerging leaders. It's free, easy and interesting. Each part will be delivered directly to your inbox.

Action Items to continually work on your own leadership development

1.  Learn more about how to enable and ennoble employees.
2. Subscribe to our weekly CONNECT2Lead Newsletter for special offers, content, and blog.

Deb Calvert is a certified Executive Coach, Certified Master with The Leadership Challenge® and architect of leadership development programs for nearly 100 organizations. She helps leaders at every level discover and achieve their leadership goals. Deb is the founder of People First Productivity Solutions, building organizational strength by putting people first since 2006.CONNECT-2-Lead-graphic-11-300x132