What qualities do we look for in our great leaders and great managers? Can one person embody both functions? The great leader connects people to a vision of a better future, and a great manager instils quality performance in other people to achieve the steps towards the ultimate goals.
In this episode I use a series of quotes from the business literature to examine the roles of a great leader and a great manager. It is for you the individual to reflect on how these quotes resonate with your own experiences of being led and managed, and of leading and managing. I also briefly reflect on some of my experiences across the last 30 years of being led and managed.
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“The manager asks how and when, the leader asks what and why.” [Warren Bennis].
As western industrialised societies have drifted into a post-industrial service industries world, one thing proliferates more than the most infectious of diseases… bureaucracy! Now anything to do with paper, or its electronic offspring, reigns supreme. Managing, auditing and regulating have become effective barriers to creativity and innovation.
The new mantra is standardisation, systematisation, uniformity and safety… conformity ensures mediocrity will be the outer limits of permitted imagination. Do the children of today dream and aspire to become a bureaucrat when they grow up? Do they loose sleep over the excitement of their first suit and form to fill? Take with a large degree of caution any bureaucrat promising to reduce the plethora of bureaucracy. It is not in their interests to free up other people to exercise their talents, initiative and decision-making skills.
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“Bureaucracies force us to practice nonsense. And if you rehearse nonsense, you may one day find yourself the victim of it.” [Laurence Gonzales].