Leadership is Overrated
    Category: Column By : Andrew Tani Read : 881 Date : Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 13:38:58

    Leadership is overrated. Without good management as a foundation, good leadership’s multiplier effect is weak. I remind CEOs that productivity is a function of the men, material, methods and money available to execute the work (management) multiplied by the morale of the people doing the tasks (leadership).

    A good management system needs a top-down approach. Management is a discipline with five dimensions: time, process, skill, balance and focus. All five dimensions need to be handled in the right way. Time—be in time. Process—work with rules. Skill—do it well. Balance—know the boundaries. Focus—stay on course. Having a good management system is the CEO’s first duty. 

    A good leadership style yields cohesive relationships based on trust. Leadership releases energy generated by positive human relationships that stoke morale. It has a multiplier effect on management system’s output. Colin Powell correctly observed: “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management thinks is possible.” Having a good leadership style is the CEO’s second duty.

    Having both good management and good leadership in the workplace simultaneously yields the best possible result, and achieved in a sustainable way. A CEO should ensure that a good management system is in place first, to get the best result technically possible, and then ensure that a good leadership style stokes the morale of the rank and file. 

    If the management system is not yet enforced properly, the results can neither be optimal nor sustainable. Even if a good leadership style is available, its impact in a bad management system will be little, if any. 

    However, it’s sexier to talk about leadership than management these days. Why? What has caused this exponential increase in interest on the subject of leadership? The answer may be in the work of George Elton Mayo, known as the father of the human relations movement. Mayo’s groundbreaking 1933 book, “The Human Problems of an Industrialized Civilization,” looked at the results of early motivation experiments, and concluded that psychological and social factors played a larger role in productivity than physical elements.

    His subject grabbed the lime light from Frederick W. Taylor’s seminal book, “The Principles of Scientific Management,” which got him known as the father of scientific management and a pioneer of the efficiency movement. How? Leadership’s personalities and human relations stories are always more colorful and interesting to begin with. Management’s business models, statistics and control charts can be boring.

    But remember this: strong leadership, servant leadership, transformational leadership and many other leadership types cannot solve today’s organizational ills until a good management system is first enforced with discipline, top-down.

    To my client CEOs: Tackle order before morale. System before style. Strategy before culture. Management before leadership. In people and organization development, prioritize the technical side. Enhance the social side as you go along. Always.