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Are you leading or managing?

Blue gears image- Rita Perea is president and CEO of Rita Perea Leadership Coaching and Consulting Associates, specializing in working with senior leaders to successfully engage employees, lead teams, manage change and balance work and life.

 “A leader knows what’s best to do; a manager knows merely how best to do it.” - Ken Adelman

What do these words mean to you?  

  • Strategic vs. Tactical
  • Visionary vs. Realist
  • People vs. Process
  • Leader vs. Manager

In today's economy the lines between leading people and managing people have become blurred.  

There was a time when the responsibilities of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. My grandfather was a "boss" in a factory. He didn’t have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. He was being paid to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job got done as quickly as possible. As a manager, his focus was on efficiency.

But in the new economy value comes from people's knowledge, and it is important for managers to find a way to engage and inspire workers. Defining a purpose and explaining the vision are the cornerstones of employee engagement. People look to their managers to answer the question “why?” in addition to assigning a “how”.  Today's managers must now motivate workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to engage them- nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to identify the presence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences this would cause in the way business was going to need to change and be conducted.

With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” 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 interactions with the  “knowledge workers” in your organization, where are you spending the bulk of your time? Are you being tactical? Strategic? Are you managing? Are you leading? Are you engaging employees with both of your leadership and management hats on? You are not alone. The lines have indeed blurred in this new economy.  



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