When times are relatively settled, when the business model is working, and marginal growth is enough to keep people happy, there’s not a lot of practical difference between good management and leadership.
Good management requires elements of leadership to communicate, motivate and get people to tag along and in most cases adequate leadership is enough.
When times are uncertain however, it’s different. We find ourselves in a space where what we’re used to managing has blown up, and people are looking at us with expressions and questions that have a strong theme of WTF? going through them.
There’s a lot of that going on right now. The current debate on school meals is a good example. People responding to a leadership issue with management speak. The facts might be right, even the logic – but without leadership, not enough people are listening. As anybody with young children knows, logic is powerless against emotion. They’re not listening.
The difference between leadership and management in these situations is commitment and courage.
Managers, generally are managing somebody else’s enterprise. In those situations, logic rules. Accountability, justification, best practice.
When it all goes haywire, leadership is about commitment.
Knowing where true North is. Example. Skin in the Game. Going first. Prepared to be wrong.
Hoping that parachute works, and that calculations about not passing out on the way down are right. You may get advisors to do the calculations, and justify them to your managers, but in the end it’s not them who have to jump.
They’ll only jump when you’ve shown them the way.
Those who will turn this crisis into opportunity will be those who jump, not the ones who advise, watch and applaud.