Money Matters

Balance of power

By Sirajuddin Aziz
Mon, 12, 23

Perhaps, leaders are not good managers, by and large. Exceptions are far and few. On the flip side, managers too, do not make for good leaders. We have on the spectrum of evaluation a regular dilemma, where there are Leaders who behave as managers and managers who act like leaders. In both situations, the people and organisation are at risk and peril.

Balance of power

Perhaps, leaders are not good managers, by and large. Exceptions are far and few. On the flip side, managers too, do not make for good leaders. We have on the spectrum of evaluation a regular dilemma, where there are Leaders who behave as managers and managers who act like leaders. In both situations, the people and organisation are at risk and peril.

The exceptions to this generalised claim of this scribe are found in the corporate world and also in the universe of politics. Our country’s short history is a testament and case in point. The last elected leader who was shunned out of the office was low on managerial abilities; and later the managerial driven politician, who climbed into the office, wasn’t recognised as a leader in his own right. There were two crutches available, firstly the privilege of holding the office and secondly, borrowed power.

The question that nags is, should leaders be good managers and vice versa, too? The answer to this dilemma is not an easy walk though. A combination of two sets of skills in an individual is desirable, but certainly not an imperative need. The two can function and operate in conjunction without encroaching upon each other’s space.

The typical skills of both leadership and managership are required to be present in both, not in equal quantum, but certainly to a degree and extent, that meets the demands of the respective office held. Both on an ideal basis must exist in a professional as complementary skills. The absence of basic traits of both functions, can easily cause, simultaneously a leadership crisis or a management crisis. This can be in relation to a country or a business organisation.

Some common traits that are essential have to be present in both the leader and the manager. To have a meaningful understanding of their respective roles, there is a need to identify and appreciate the dissimilarities, to find distinctiveness, between the two different responsibilities.

In simplistic terms, a leader inspires and motivates, while management is responsible for day to day operations of an entity or group of companies, to achieve pre- defined objectives and to adhere and observe the strict application of systems, procedures, processes, in compliance with adequate executive control function.

Leadership qualities largely are in-born and acquired too. Managerial traits are acquirable skills. Some of the naturally blessed inherent skills and qualities like patience to details, ability to sit back and delegate, having good listening ability, etc require sharpening, for becoming better and good managers. Leadership qualities can be emulated and copied, but no naturally gifted leader can delegate these traits. Even those who are thrust into officiating capacity as leaders, rarely make a mark. They remain managers, even in leadership positions.

Manager is a title, leader is not; the former is acquired by skill development and training, the latter is innate and inborn characteristic, which gets activated by emerging situations or circumstances , for example, it is difficult to conceive the greatness of Winston Churchill as a leader, without the event of World War II. He would in the War Room leave aside his leadership side and like a true hands on manager would get into the nitty gritty of war moves. A leader shifts from his position towards managing more swiftly and ably than any manager can to a Leadership role.

Leaders are expected to possess distinctive qualities of being passionate about their vision, clear in goals setting, and demonstrate virtuous habits. They should be free from being deceptive or from masking their motives and intentionalities. Honesty must be a given thing and must require no seal of approval. Leaders have a strong sense of empathy, which allows for creation of deep relationships with team members. Also, leaders must possess good communication skills. They should be open and willingly recipients of new and creative ideas. Managers handle day to day operations. They plan, organise, monitor and control, through dependencies upon the team members, who in turn see the manager as an expert on processes management.

Leaders envision and managers execute the vision and mission. Leaders take responsibility to give vision and mission; managers are goal oriented. Leaders continually challenge the status quo , the validity of a thought and concept, hence they move the many boulders of obstacles that exist and in some minds flourish, from a state of inertia to an action. Being focused on goals, managers tend to protect the status quo, existing or they create one. Both, however, are willing to learn and grow is an indisputable fact ; the leaders more, while the inclination of the manager is more skewed towards status quo, while many others refine and polish the existing skills.

It is an established role of a manager to ensure that the day to day operations are carried out efficaciously and efficiently. Mangers' instructions must be clear, conveyed in a dependable environment. Managers gather trust and respect through dependable communications.

Leaders enable performance of managers and teams. A manager is more a controller of resources with focussed responsibility to bring cost and productivity efficiencies. They plan and direct people and other resources, based on the vision of the leader. A typical manager will relate to each member of the team, based on the functions leaders are more ideologues. Managers are doers. The best example that comes to my aid is the combination of Mao Tse Tung and Chou En Lai, the former was a visionary leader and the later was executive, who made it happen; even a wild imagination to reverse and swap their roles, would have meant a disaster of sorts for China as a country. Later between Deng Xiao Ping, (the master economic architect of modern day China) and first, Prime minister Li Peng and later Prime minister Zhou Rong Ji, the same principle was adopted. We can applaud China for its steady foreign investment and trade policy initiatives.

Managers cannot handle chaos, disorder, because of the process orientation. Leaders not only handle chaos and disorder but subscribe to practical training platforms to find creative solutions. Leaders not only manage chaos, sometimes, they initiate chaos to bring order. Again, Mao’ s disastrous Cultural Revolution is a case in point.

Leadership is also pursuing the naturally gifted powers to influence thought and action of people. Adolf Hitler too was a leader… he influenced and controlled through, willing allegiance of his people as well as through fear, by using Gestapo. His loyalists were more in number than detractors. That’s history. Demagoguery is a tool used by leaders both for noble and ignoble purposes. Managers on the contrary relate to rationality of processes to ensure efficiency, he/she is looked at as the person who has answers to all operational issues.

Leaders act as coaches. There can be no coaching unless the coach believes that the coaching will ultimately result in the emergence of a better person than own-self. This acceptance of having and developing better people is usually absent in a manager. Leaders create lasting relationships. They look at intangible results as future tangible gains.

Leaders have social skills, they know the importance and relevance of using hard power and soft power, they know the benefits of graceful persuasion. Leaders know the importance of surrounding themselves with people more talented than themselves. Abraham Lincoln fits beautifully the bill of all the characteristics a leader must possess. He was full of the enormity of love and compassion for his followers. He had an amazing listening ability. A combination of courage and humility.

Leaders mostly work towards creating self esteem of themselves, an integrity that is beyond reproach. They invest in people. They are passionate in perseverance, hold to principles of truth and integrity, are responsible in communication, they empower others without fear or conditionalities. They help colleagues in discovering their unique strengths. They are with a talented company.

Managers need supervision. Leaders manage themselves. Leading ownself is a trait to possess, both for managers and leaders.

The writer is a senior banker & freelance columnist