Post-recession Economy: Leader or Manager?

“The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.” – Warren Bennis, Author

Do these words resonnate with you?
Strategic vs. Tactical
Visionary vs. Realist
People vs. Process
Leader vs. Manager

There was a time when the responsibilities of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era factory didn’t have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job got done. The industrial manager’s focus was on efficiency.

But in the post-recession economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define a purpose. To answer the question “why?” in addition to suggesting a “how”. And managers must now organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognize this truth, as he was to recognize so many other management truths. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the way business was organized.

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

In your day-to-day position as a “knowledge worker” are you leading? Are you managing? Have the lines blurred for you in this post-recession economy?

 

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