Don’t Get Swept Up in Leadership—Recognize the Value of Management

Written by James O. Rodgers

Two people discussing over a laptop

Some writers might tell you that management is simply an imitation of leadership, or that leaders and managers are one and the same these days.

Nothing could be further from the truth: managers can’t copy leaders—they serve two very different functions. Leaders point the way; managers develop the means for that way to be achieved.

So, how do we combat the rapid expansion of the leadership obsession? How do we change popular perceptions of management so that every organization sees the true value of its managers?

We start with articles like this one.

Spark a Conversation

A conversation, of course, requires multiple participants. Luckily, I am not alone in this endeavor: a number of my colleagues are taking up the mantle of management as well. They recognize that we’ve overstated the importance of leadership, and we’ve underplayed the importance of management.

Now we’re talking about it more. We’re starting conversations, we’re developing training, we’re speaking about the issue: in short, we’re offering tools to remind people of the importance of management.

It can be easy to forget how important management is from a productivity and performance standpoint, but managers are truly the backbones of any organization. Leaders don’t do the hard work. They take a big-picture view, and they say “Strategically, when I look at the marketplace and the future, here’s what we need to do to survive.” Then, they simply repeat their vision over and over again.

The manager does the taxing work of translating leadership visions into real actions that achieve results: selecting the right people, making sure that they have the tools they need to perform, encouraging them, supporting them, developing them, etc.

Recognize the Consequences of Bad Management

The other thing that needs to happen to change the perception of management is that people need to be reminded of the impact of poor management. Most of us know it, we just don’t focus on it, and bad management can be devastating, from a recruitment and retention standpoint.

When an employee leaves an organization unexpectedly, they rarely—if ever—leave because they disagree with leadership or dislike the company’s mission or goal. In fact, the most common reason why employees leave is because of their relationship with their manager.

Good management, then, is important for preventing high turnover rates, which is a costly problem for any organization.

Without managers, nothing gets done: managers, after all, are the ones who oversee projects, ensure deadlines are met, and enable people to contribute at their highest levels. As long as companies see managers as copies or extensions of leadership, they won’t be able to achieve real results.