The difference between Leading and Managing

November 26, 2009

Much has been written about Leadership, Management and the differences between the two.  Much of the debate causes more confusion than it resolves.  I see the differences as being that Leadership is about creating the vision of where the organisation is to go and getting the necessary buy-in of the stakeholders.  Management, however,  is about making this vision a reality.  Both aspects are necessary in every organisation and one is not better than the other.

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Stress and risk – the secret of happiness

November 13, 2009

Very interesting article on the Financial Times online by Luke Johns, the chairman of Channel 4 and who also runs Risk Capital Partners, a private equity firm.  A recent debate took place on what society wants post recession. Some panelists emphasised the importance of promoting happiness rather than material wealth as a true measure of human progress.  One view put forward was that public policy should demotivate wealth creators with higher taxation because they exacerbate the race for status.

Johns raises the view that entrepreneurs are the principal engine that can create jobs.  To deny them the opportunity to create wealth denies society the opportunity to combat unemployment.  This article raises an interesting debate about the balance between protecting against rampant excess (as the financial industry is perceived to have succumbed to) and the need to allow individuals reap the reward for risk.

Johns end with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, the former US president: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though chequered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”


7 Lessons for Navigating the Storm

November 10, 2009

Interesting post on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge about how to survive the storm.  Based on a new book by HBS Professor Bill George, 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis who doesn’t believe in wasting a good crisis.  His 7 lessons include facing reality – starting with yourself – up to focus on winning now.  The post includes a Q&A with Professor George.


Kotter’s 8 Steps for Change

November 8, 2009

John P. Kotter is one of the best known and widely read authors on change.  I recently read again his transforming article on change (Note 1) outlining why change initiatives fail and it is as releant today as it was in 1995. Based on research on successful change programmes, Kotter believes that the “change process goes through a series of phases” that take time and effort.  Skipping or skimping on any of these steps are short sighted as they can have a major impact on the success or otherwise of the change initiative.

Key to change is creating a sense of urgency.  Kotter believes that without this urgency, there will be no incentive for change – 50% of change initiatives fail in the first phase. Momentum in the rest peters out resulting in, if not failure, than succeed at a far lower level than could have been achieved.

Kotter’s 8 Steps are shown below:

Kotter Change 2

While urgency is necessary, it is only the beginning.  Many organisations, it seems, fail to realise the extent and nature of change and as a result fail to keep the momentum going.  This will be the challenge facing many organisations; how to deal with change fatigue.

Note 1: Leading Change – Why transformation efforts fail, John P Kotter, Harvard Business Review on Change, 1995


When will the change be over?

November 4, 2009

Bob Sutton has an interesting post on his blog.  The question raised by an employee of their boss.  The reality is that change will never be over although the pace may change.  Bob takes this further by asking what can a boss do “to help people anticipate, cope with, and flourish in the face of change”.  In my recent newsletter, I outlined how a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis (Note 1), discusses how organisations can manage this challenge. They set out three prescriptions:

1. Foster Adaptation

2. Embrace Disequilibrium

3. Generate Leadership

The first step is to realise that change is continuous. Without this step, the others will not follow.

Note 1: Leadership in an (Permanent) Crisis, Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky, Harvard Business Review, July – August 2009


Behaviour change requires consequences

November 4, 2009

Performance, to a large extent, is driven by behaviours.  As I outlined in an earlier post, there is a difference between those who are willing and those who are able.  Ability is what I am capable of doing. Willingness is based on my motivation, satisfaction and my engagement.  Once, I have the ability, if I am not performing, it is usually down to my willingness.  And my willingness drives my behaviours.  This could manifest itself as my willingness to engage, my attitude to my colleagues or clients or, simply, my time and attendance.

For there to be a change in behaviours, there must be consequences – and these must outweigh the desire to continue the behaviour.  For many managers, there is a desire to bury their head in the sand rather than tackle the issue at the earliest possible opportunity.   By challenging the behaviour, the consequence does not have to be dramatic or final.  By ignoring the behaviour until it becomes a problem, the consequence must be severe in order to lead to a change.