Management guru Warren Bennis said most organizations are over managed and under led. And while management is essential, leadership is equally important and a key factor in sustaining operational success. When you accepted your role as manager, you also accepted the responsibility of leadership. Leadership is not an option. It’s not an “either/or” proposition. It’s management And leadership, not management OR leadership. Our customers demand good management; our employees are starved for leadership!
In my book, “Building Cathedrals: The Power of Purpose,” I introduce Christopher Wren, whois known in England as one of the greatest architects in history and perhaps the oldest and best example of a leader who get’s out from behind his desk making sure others see the big picture. Wren was commissioned to rebuild Saint Paul’s Cathedral after the great fire of 1666, which destroyed London. While rebuilding St. Paul’s Cathedral, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold.
To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked, “What are you doing?” to which the bricklayer replied, “I’m working.” The second bricklayer, when asked, “What are you doing?” responded, “I’m building a wall.” But the third bricklayer, the most productive of the three, the future leader of the group, when asked, “What are you doing?” responded, “I’m building a cathedral to the Almighty.”
I can imagine Christopher Wren behind his desk on a busy Monday morning managing the business. He had deadlines, budgets to meet, an upcoming presentation to the board on project overruns and numerous setbacks due to an unusually cold winter. Fresh on his mind were personnel issues that needed his approval before the end of the week. In short, Christopher Wren was extremely busy “managing” the business.
But at some point, Wren realized the importance and the necessity of “leading” in addition to managing. He got out from behind his desk and practiced what we used to call, MBWA (management by walking around). I’ve changed that acronym to LBWA, leadership by walking around, as I’m convinced that we can’t lead from behind our desks. Management typically takes place behind our desks, leadership out in the field with our people.
Like you, I’ve studied leadership for quiet some time. But it was actually an artist who had the most profound impact on my understanding of management and leadership. Faye Christian Phillips is the artist who painted the above Christopher Wren scene in my book, “Building Cathedrals: The Power of Purpose.” I told Faye the story and gave her clear directions on what I envisioned in the paintings. Her oil painting of that scene in 1671 of Wren observing three bricklayers on that scaffold was simply breathtaking. But as I took a closer look I saw the actual dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which in my mind and in my directions to Faye had not yet been completed. To me, her response illustrates the major difference between management and leadership. “Greg, the dome in the painting is a mirage. There were only two people that day who saw the cathedral, Wren and the third bricklayer.”
Wow! An artist helped me see the scaffold represents management. It is the foundation of what we do in our business. It is the structure that holds everything together. It is the service we provide. The scaffold represents our values, our guiding principles, our operating practices, our mission. The dome on the other hand represents leadership. The dome is the vision we strive for and as leaders what we communicate to others. The dome represents more than just the service we provide, it represents the result of having such service. The dome is our culture.
Leadership and management go hand in hand and while they’re not the same thing, they are necessarily linked and complimentary. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager has her/his eye on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
We all have our strengths, comfort levels and natural tendencies when it comes to management and leadership. Smart managers and leaders not only know their strengths, they recognize their weaknesses. And most importantly, they surround themselves with others who compliment their styles and compensate for their shortcomings. They’re focused on the scaffold, but not at the expense of seeing the dome.