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« 25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #6 Manage, but don’t lead | Main | Christmas Greetings »

25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #5 Lead, but don’t manage

If there is one thing which is guaranteed to annoy me it’s the lack of attention to detail that some so-called “leaders” display. Actually, it’s more than that. You could rightly argue that leadership is about inspiring people with a vision, and so there shouldn’t be any need for leaders to get bogged down in the minutia of how something's going to work in practice.

Photo by Woodsy -, I accept that. But it would be nice if the ones I’m talking about acknowledged that such details actually exist, and need to be dealt with. You’ve been in meetings run by these folk – they’re the meetings which end with the words “Right, so by next month this will be in place.”

Erm, who will put it in place?

I think that one key characteristic of a good leader is the ability to recognise one’s strengths – and weaknesses, or at least those aspects of the work that could profitably be delegated to others. So a good leader will inspire the team to “sign up to” a vision, and then appoint a project manager to see it through, not just leave it to chance.

As implied in my article But where’s the pen?, leaders who don’t pay attention to detail, or who don’t ensure that there is someone who is paying attention to detail, are bound to fail.

You may also enjoy the series 31 Days to become a better ed tech leader.

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Reader Comments (4)

Absolutely. I've read a number of articles recently which suggest that the blame for the financial crisis is too much focus on leadership and not enough concern about management. The banks and other financial behemoths were doing all the big picture, risk taking, longterm stuff, while ignoring the maintenance and making sure that ongoing stuff was on track. Result: this current mess.
December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Hockley
OMG I should have included that phrase, "the big picture" -- exactly: what about the "small" details??? Excuse me while I tear my hair out and run amok.
Some leaders are great leaders but don't manage because they empower their staff. I can think of a lot of huge business leaders that take this approach. Still, even with that in mind I agree with your point. A good leader will leave a meeting saying to whoever has shown an interest in completing a task "Are you sure you want to do it? Okay, if you need any help then don't be scared of coming to me".
December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn McLear
thx, John. I agree, but I am counting that as management, even though it's delegated management -- which makes a lot of sense and should happen in my opinion. See, eg,

What I was raving about in the article are the "leaders" who don't even think anything needs to be managed: you know, just by the leader saying it, it will happen. So i totally agree with you, and think that last point is excellent too. Cheers

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