The Leadership Management Scale
I think of the leadership - manager issue as a kind of sliding scale. On one extreme is pure leadership, and on the other extreme is pure management. We all operate somewhere on the sliding scale every day. We move from one point on the scale to another point based on what is going on and on our personal style. Let's be more specific on the metaphor. Suppose pure leadership is a 1, and pure management is a 10.
I may be writing an e-mail encouraging people to pay attention to our future in the actions we take today. While I am writing that note, my mind is operating at about 2 on the scale. I am having a bit of management thought because I am referring to current actions, but the thrust of my note is about following our vision, which is pure leadership.
I finish the note and look up to see a supervisor at my door with an issue. There is a person with a significant attendance problem that is out of control. I discuss what the supervisor wants to do. He asks for my opinion, and I offer my advice. Here I am operating at about 8 or 9 on the scale because maintaining control and following the rules is pure management.
Do you see how this works? All day we do things that are partially leadership and partially management. Now, I will share that my comfort zone is about 2-3 on the scale. That is where I would naturally spend most of my time if given the chance by circumstances. There are two important things to observe here:
- Pay attention to where you are on the scale in any conversation or action. That will help you clarify your role.
- Learn where your "Sweet spot" is on the scale. If you are a natural 8, then you need someone who is a 2-3 to balance you. If you are a natural 2, then get an 8 to help manage the place.