Monthly Archives: July 2006

Leadership vs Management

I have always believed that leaders and managers are two different kinds of people. This article, distinguishes between leaders and managers quite well.

Leaders conceive and initiate strategies that create and sustaincompetitive differentiation and advantage. They continuously pursue and evaluate innovations that may lead to increased productivity, new business opportunities and markets, and new or expanded competitive advantage and differentiation. They direct and influence corporate activities and behaviors to develop an environment and processes that support and sustain these strategies

Managers implement strategies in day-to-day operations. They establish processes and systems, create business rules and operating procedures, and monitor performance to maximize the efficient production of the company’s products and services. They have the frontline responsibility for ensuring efficient and appropriate use of company resources, including equipment, employees and capital.

Thus, in summary it appears that leaders think, and managers implement. Now, here is my insight:

Most orgnanizations actually reward good managers. Good managers, over a period of time tend to occupy leadership roles. Is this necessarily good? The skill sets that are required from a manager seem to differ from what a leader requires. A manager is likely to be one who is good at delivering results, planning, organizing, people skills, data analysis etc. A leader on the other hand would need to begood at analyzing the environment, predicting trends, understanding human potential (of his team), influencing people and so forth. Plato believed that philosophers would probably make good kings. In the same vein, it appears that a good leader would be one who is an evolved creature, who can get away from the mundane operational issues, and look far ahead into the future.

Now, if this hypothesis is true, shouldn’t organizations look for different kinds of people to occupy these two kinds of roles. In other words, I would like to see organizations look at creating two kinds of talent pipelines – a management pipeline, and a leadership pipeline, and not mix up the two. The management pipeline would consist of the left-brainers, the people who know what needs to be done to get the job done – the analytical people, who are good at making plans, roadmaps etc. The leadership pipeline would consist of the people with softer skills – creativity, intuition, vision, good values, a sense of justice, fairness etc. A leader is almost like a lighthouse, that creates paths, while good managers are probably like sailors who know where to go thanks to the lighthouse, but need to use their own talents to ‘get there’.

Needless to say, this classification may make the ‘leaders’ appear more glamourous, but that is the case anyway in most modern organizational hierarchies. I however believe, that both skills are equally valuable – without good management, ideas would just remain ideas.


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The new and improved ‘Management by Matrices’

As you can see, this blog has just made the leap of faith, from being a drab old blog (in terms of look, not content!), to a sleek, sexy branded look. Many thanks to Joshua ‘design’ Karthik for that.

I recently discovered, that a few quality blogs (like this one), find this blog’s content worthwhile to list it in their favourites. That was motivation enough for me to go for a more branded look, in addition to trying and maintaining a healthy posting frequency. Now, if only I actively ‘promoted’ this blog, I suppose more traffic would come in. However, I tend to be a little more traditional in my views as far as promotion is concerned. I would prefer my readers to do the promotion if they like my stuff, rather than do it myself. Yes, I seem to be disregarding, an important ‘P’ of marketing. Hmm..who knows, I may just decide to turn immodest!!

Watch this space for more…


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Slow Leadership

I thought I was the only one who did not support the modern management style of 12 hour working days, and break neck speed decision making. Turns out there is a dedicated blog on this, that advocates a form of leadership that they term ‘Slow Leadership’. This is a link to their first archive page.

The eight key principles of Slow Leadership:

1. Right Tempo
2. Right Attention
3. Right Balance
4. Right Perspective
5. Right Direction
6. Right Relationships
7. Right Enjoyment
8. Right Gratitude

Reminds me of Stephen Covey’s approach, that tends to focus more on the basic human side to leadership, and not the superficial jargon laden one. The move to the ‘basics’ has been an ongoing management trend that I have observed. Business schools too have realized that Organizational Behavior is probably a more important leadership tool than say, Financial Management. We seem to live in a world that admires speed more than anything else. There is an acute sense of there not being enough time to do anything, which stems from an equally acute desire to do everything at once.

In such a fast paced environment, we need to re-look at the people side to enterprise. We need to understand that organizations exist to serve not just customers, but also employees. Slow Leadership seems to advocate this deliberate slowing down. Human beings need to reflect, as much as they love to act. Modern organizations tend to focus more on action, and allow little time for reflection. In this quest for bigger, better and faster, are we becoming better people, or are we becoming ‘resources’, a term often used by HR managers to refer to people ?


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Omkara – what to expect

For those waiting to watch Vishal Bharadwaj’s take on Othello – Omkara – here’s a summary of Othello’s plot from Wikipedia. I have not (yet) developed an interest in Shakespeare beyond that abridged CBSE text book from school, speaking of which one looks back at those abridged books with a sense of mild surprise at how well they stuck to the ‘story’, and stayed away from the ‘literature’. Public service summary of Othello follows:

Othello, a Moor who has just eloped with the fair Desdemona when the play opens, leaves Venice to command the Venetian army against the turks at Cyprus, accompanied by his new wife and his lieutenant, Cassio. When they arrive, they find that the weather has destroyed the Turkish fleet. Iago, a standard bearer, repeatedly tries to undo Othello, finally succeeding when he plants Desdemona’s handkerchief on Cassio, managing to convince Othello that his wife has been unfaithful with the lieutenant. Othello kills Desdemona out of jealousy, before Iago’s wife, Emilia, eventually reveals that Desdemona’s affair was but an invention of Iago’s. Iago immediately kills his wife also, and Othello then commits suicide in grief. At the end, it can be assumed, Iago is taken off to be tortured and executed. [source: Wikipedia]

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Only George Dubya can be counted on for something like this:

President Bush: Peter. Are you going to ask that question with shades on?
Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times: I can take them off.
Bush: I’m interested in the shade look, seriously.
Wallsten: All right, I’ll keep it, then.
Bush: For the viewers, there’s no sun.
Wallsten: I guess it depends on your perspective.
Bush: Touché.
-Exchange with legally blind reporter Peter Wallsten, to whom Bush later apologized, Washington, D.C., June 14, 2006

I am not surprised that this exchange occurred. This is how old George conducts most of his press conferences- with a slightly condescending attitude that is a also a bit friendly in a back slapping kind of a way. The thing is that Dubya cannot be counted upon to have a naturally endearing style that was characteristic of Clinton. Instead, what results, when he is in one of those ‘articulate’ moods is a jarring effect that is almost embarrassing for the viewer. For catching up with Bushisms live, watch CNN for those press conferences about the ‘enemy’, ‘muslims’, ‘Iraq’ and so forth. If one extreme of the continuum is Bush’s ‘bumbling idiot’ act in press conferences, the other extreme is undoubtedly occupied by Donald Rumsfeld whose suave handling of the media leads to long verbose answers that don’t give away anything, yet seem to satisfy us temporarily.

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Smaller cell phones please…

I’ve been looking at the trend of mobile phones growing in size with amusement. I thought the logical way to go would be have smaller and smaller phones, till you had one that fit into your ear (or implanted into your brain!). On the contrary, mobile phone makers are trying hard to fit in every possible function into the device from camera’s to FM radios to e-mail clients. As a result, the end product is a lot more bulky than a purely functional phone. A better way to do things would be to make smaller phones that do the basics, which have lighter batteries that last longer, which radiate less heat, which probably integrate voice with video and which finally make the ‘talking to people’ experience better.
It’s about time somebody did to mobile phones what Apple did with the i-Pod – create a super simplified phone that can be used for only one thing – making calls. I mean, who uses a mobile phone for any serious photography??

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