Managing the Leading

25 Ways to Make Yourself Unpopular- Retro Review #2

Julia Skinner disagrees with Terry's analysis of people who manage but don't lead.

As consumers ( in the real world) when things go wrong we call for the Manager. That role holds power. Power to sort out difficulties. Power to have answers to customers questions and queries. In retail particularly it is the aim of those career minded youths to work their way up to management and the exulted places they are considered to be.

I remember fondly the BBC comedy series ‘Are you Being Served’ which took the viewer into the day to day running of a large department store. The programme’s appeal lay in the interaction of the characters as each department vied to have the ear of Captain Peacock the Floor Manager. Above him of course was Mr. Rumbold who managed the store then to even loftier heights to Mr. Grayson the owner who knew very little about anything but in particular the running of Grace Brothers!

Terry’s article ‘25 Ways to Make Yourself Unpopular #6 Manage, Don’t Lead’ highlighted the difficulties between leading and managing but I think he missed the point slightly! His post illustrates all the things that could be in place to make sure a project flows to a successful conclusion but I think some of them blur those distinctions between the two roles.Walking the dog. (Click the link to see the original)

For instance, is it not a leader’s place to encourage the team to be creative and come up with suggestions? Buying in needs a shared vision and that again is usually down to the leader. My own experience of leadership emphasizes the need to leave well alone when it comes to the carrying out of the activities.

As a head teacher I would have the strategic vision and encourage my team to buy in and go beyond. What I found extremely difficult was to then let them ‘get on with it’. I like to think it was not a case of not trusting them. It was more a desire to help and be seen as being prepared to roll up my sleeves and muck in with the ‘doing’. However, there were occasions when I was caught out and my helping was interpreted as lack of trust and they just left me to it! It could also be a case of ‘if we don’t do it, Julia will’!

So back to the definitions. Being a control freak as a leader is no excuse for getting too involved in the management. It shows either a lack of trust in the team or a misunderstanding of the different roles.

Terry talks about managing a team and what is required but I think he is looking at it from a leader’s point of view. Although I suppose you can have a leading manager is there such a thing as a managing leader?!

Julia Skinner is a retired primary headteacher living in Bristol in the South West of England. She is very involved in class blogging and the use of social media in schools. Catch up with her blog at 'The Head's Office'

You can catch up on the other posts in the series by clicking on that link!