Using Life’s Onion for team building exercises related to leading vs. managing, team development, virtual teams, and supervisory development.

Leadership and management go hand in hand but they are not exactly the same thing. Although they are linked and complementary, efforts to separate and specify the unique details of management vs. leadership skills often cause confusion.

Most times attempts to differentiate between leaders and managers tend to simply reduce managers to poor leaders. Management tasks are frequently made to look menial and short-sighted, while leaders are celebrated for having vision and inspiration.

A popular leadership quote says: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” While this makes a powerful point and evokes strong emotion, let’s face the facts: if you actually want to build a ship in reality – you should probably get someone to gather the wood, divide the work, and give out orders…

Management has traditionally been associated with forecasting, budgeting, planning, and controlling. Managers and supervisors have been taught to assign work to subordinates, to evaluate teammates’ work, to assess performance problems, and to hire and fire employees. But in the new economy, where value comes increasingly from individuals and their unique abilities, and where workers are no longer just cogs in a machine, management and leadership are not so easily separated. Managers must cultivate workers to nurture skills and develop talent, not just maximize efficiency. Staff members increasingly look to their managers to define their purpose as well as assign them specific tasks.

The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognize this truth. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences they would cause in the way business is managed, led, and organized.

With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” writes Drucker. “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”

In this outstanding article from INC., James Kerr is right on target with a discussion of the true distinction between Leadership and management with an understanding that both are necessary and vital parts of a healthy organization.

Leader or Manager? These 10 Important Distinctions Can Help You Out

“There’s a difference between leadership and management. Leaders look forward and imagine the possibilities that the future may bring in order to set direction. Managers monitor and adjust today’s work, regularly looking backward to ensure that current goals and objectives are being met. The best leaders lead and let their management teams manage the work at hand.”

Clearly, there is a symbiotic relationship between those responsible for leading a business and those responsible for managing the work within it. While managers can certainly lead and leaders can certainly manage, the skills required to be good at either one are separate and distinct.

What follows are ten of the most important distinctions to note. Regardless of which role you currently play, understanding these key differences between leading and managing may help you become better at your job:

  1. Leadership inspires change, management manages transformation – A leader must set direction and inspire people to follow them. The process of following often requires great change. This is where strong management comes in. It’s the manager’s job to oversee the work needed to implement the necessary changes and realize the organizational transformation set forth by the leadership.
  2. Leadership requires vision, management requires tenacity – A leader needs to envision what the business is to become. A great manager must have the willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve the goals set forth by the leader.
  3. Leadership requires imagination, management requires specifics – A great leader can cultivate their imagination to inform their vision. It helps them to “see” what can be. Managers must understand that vision and drive their teams to do the specific work necessary to accomplish what has been expressed.
  4. Leadership requires abstract thinking, management requires concrete data – By definition, abstract thinking enables a person to make connections among, and see patterns within, seemingly unrelated information. The ability to think abstractly comes in very handy when reimagining what an organization can become. Conversely, a manager must be able to work with, and analyze, concrete data in order to ensure optimal results.
  5. Leadership requires ability to articulate, management requires ability to interpret – A good leader can describe their vision in vivid detail so to engage and inspire their organization to pursue it. A good manager must interpret that stated vision and recast it in terms that their teams can understand and embrace it.
  6. Leadership requires an aptitude to sell, management requires an aptitude to teach – A leader must sell their vision to their organization and its stakeholders. They must convince all concerned parties that what is envisioned is achievable and provides greater value than what is created by the business today. In keeping, a manager must be able to teach their teams what must be learned and adapted to attain the stated vision.
  7. Leadership requires understanding of the external environment, management requires understanding of how work gets done inside the organization – A leader must understand the business environment in which the enterprise operates so to better anticipate opportunities and evade misfortune, while a manager is relied on to figure out how to get things done using the resources available to the business.
  8. Leadership requires risk-taking, management requires self-discipline – A leader will take educated risks when setting a strategic direction for a business. Managers must have the self-discipline to stick to the plan for realizing that strategic direction so to ensure that the strategy comes together as planned.
  9. Leadership requires confidence in the face of uncertainty, management requires blind commitment to completing the task at hand – A leader’s life is filled with uncertainty. They’re setting a course for their company in unchartered waters. Once the course is set, managers are duty-bound to follow the stated direction and commit to delivering the results expected.
  10. Leadership is accountable to the entire organization, management is accountable to the team – Finally, leaders must consider the impact of their decisions on the whole organization. A misstep can bring an entire business to its knees. It’s a huge responsibility. Accordingly, managers are responsible for their teams. They must ensure that their teams are prepared to deliver and that each member is equipped to do what is required for success.

See more at: http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/leading-v-managing-ten-important-distinctions-that-can-help-you-to-become-better.html

LEADING VS. MANAGING TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE

Below is an excellent team building and supervisory development exercise (Manager or Leader?) adapted for Life’s Onion. Originally appearing in the book: Leading Successful PMOs: How to Build the Best Project Management Office for Your Business by Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Peter Taylor – this exercise is designed to make a staff or project group think about management and leadership as co-existing realities with a significant amount of overlap. This can help individuals to better understand their own role in an organization as well as highlighting areas where they might undertake a leadership initiative themselves.

Appendix 6: Manager Or Leader?

There are important differences between leading and managing. The best leaders lead and let others manage; the best managers understand their leader’s vision and work with their teams to achieve it. Your business needs people with both kinds of skills and aptitudes to secure enduring success.

Take the time to understand these differences so to build an organization that leverages each to the fullest. Many people confuse or merge the different attributes of management and leadership. This exercise enables people to understand the differences. Anyone can lead, inspire, motivate others. Leadership is not the exclusive responsibility of the CEO, directors, and senior managers.

Encourage staff at all levels to aspire to and apply the principles of good leadership, and the whole organization will benefit. Everyone can be a leader in their own way. Don’t wait to be led – be a leader yourself!

Here is a list of many things that managers and leaders do. Either issue the list, or preferably make or ask the team to make separate cards or post-it notes for each word/phrase, which can be given to a group or team. Then ask the participants to identify the items that are associated with managing and those that are associated with leading.

Groups of over five people can be spilt into teams of three, to enable fuller participation and a variety of answers for review and discussion. Each team must have their own space to organize their answers. Different teams can be given different items to work with or a whole set for each team. Manage the quantities and scale according to the situation and time.

reporting
monitoring
budgeting
measuring
applying rules and policies
disciplining people
being honest with people
developing strategy
consulting with team
giving responsibility to others
determining direction
explaining decisions
assessing performance
defining aims and objectives
doing the right thing
taking people with you
developing successors
inspiring others
running meetings
interviewing
organizing resources
decision-making
mentoring
negotiating
keeping promises
working alongside team members
sharing a vision with team members
motivating others
giving praise
thanking people
being determined
communicating instructions
making painful decisions
appraising people
recruiting
counseling
coaching
problem-solving
selling and persuading
doing things right
using systems
getting people to do things
implementing tactics
resolving conflict
giving constructive feedback
accepting criticism and suggestions
allowing the team to make mistakes
taking responsibility for others’ mistakes
formal team briefing
responding to emails
planning schedules
delegating
reacting to requests
reviewing performance
time management
nurturing and growing people
team-building
taking responsibility
identifying the need for action
having courage
acting with integrity
listening

Here’s the list sorted into suggested categories for the facilitator to use when reviewing the activity. The answers are not absolute as context and style can affect category. There is certainly a justification for some of the ‘managing’ activities to appear in the ‘leading’ category if the style of performing them is explained as such, for instance ‘reporting the performance of the team in a way that attributes praise and credit to the team’ would be an activity associated with leadership, whereas ‘reporting’ is a basic management duty.

You can add tasks, duties, responsibilities and behaviors to the list, and/or invite team members to add to the list with ideas or specific examples, before the exercise. To shorten and simplify the exercise remove items for which similar terms exist, and combine other similar items, for example, reporting and monitoring.

managing leading
reporting
monitoring
budgeting
measuring
applying rules and policies
discipline
running meetings
interviewing
recruiting
counseling
coaching
problem-solving
decision-making
mentoring
negotiating
selling and persuading
doing things right
using systems
communicating instructions
assessing performance
appraising people
getting people to do things
formal team briefing
responding to emails
planning schedules
delegating
reacting to requests
reviewing performance
time management
organizing resources
implementing tactics
team-building
taking responsibility
identifying the need for action
having courage
consulting with team
giving responsibility to others
determining direction
explaining decisions
making painful decisions
defining aims and objectives
being honest with people
developing strategy
keeping promises
working alongside team members
sharing a vision with team members
motivating others
doing the right thing
taking people with you
developing successors
inspiring others
resolving conflict
allowing the team to make mistakes
taking responsibility for mistakes
nurturing and growing people
giving praise
thanking people
giving constructive feedback
accepting criticism and suggestions
being determined
acting with integrity
listening

See more at: https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Successful-PMOs-Management-Business/dp/1409418375

Adaptation For Life’s Onion

Life’s Onion® has 3 layers of 4 peels and a central core. The 12 peels/petals can be removed, replaced, and exchanged – and can be written upon with sharpie markers.

To adapt this exercise, have participants assign ‘leadership’ qualities to the inside of the peels and ‘management’ qualities to the outside. In this context, the central core would be considered a pure leadership skill. Consider allowing the group to determine what they consider the most significant and central leadership skill (vision? trust? inspiration?).

The strength of association that each item has with either heading can be indicated by how close each item is positioned in relation to the central core. This creates a highly visual ‘map’ of management and leadership competencies and can effectively illustrate areas of overlap.

The review discussion should investigate reasons and examples for why items are positioned and can involve moving items around to each team’s or group’s satisfaction and agreement. For a deeper exploration, consider using the Life’s Onion workbook to unpack each layer of management and leadership competencies and qualities.