Driving Enhanced Customer Experience

Why leadership is imperative, and how you can unleash it in your organisation.

Leadership not Management 123rf_25893740_s“Management is not leadership.”  Those bald words are from John Kotter’s 2012 updated preface to his 1996 book “Leading Change.” He makes the statement to highlight the theme of the second chapter. Yet the whole sentence reads, “The simple insight that management is not leadership is better understood today, but not nearly as well as needed.” This begs the question, “Why not?”

That question may be easier to ask than answer. After all, “Leading Change” is a worldwide best seller. A book that, in 2011, Time Magazine described as one of the top 25 most influential business management books of all time. Yet, despite its seminal significance and this ostensible influence, it seems that its lessons have not been learned.

But Kotter himself says, “That does not mean executives have learned nothing in the past few decades. They have. But the challenges have been growing as fast, or faster, than their skills.” I wonder.

It seems to me that Kotter is pulling his punches and/or flattering his audience here. In his own words “Management makes a system work, Leadership builds systems or transforms old ones.”  This is perhaps one of the most concise, succinct and useful explanations of the difference between management and leadership that I have ever read. It, perhaps, also answers the “Why not?” and offers a crystal clear explanation of why we seem to be facing a “crisis of leadership.”

Any regular reader of my blogs will know that the difference between management and leadership is a pet theme of mine, and - in particular – the fact that leadership is not confined to those with manager in their title. And you don’t just have to take my word for it, Kotter himself says as much in his new preface when he states, “These trends demand more agility and change-friendly organizations; more leadership from more people, and not just top management.”  

In light of this, it is hardly a stretch to say that reason executives have been unable to keep pace with change is largely because they have not yet fully recognised or accepted that fact. Change means getting people to do things differently. This means everyone, which in turn demands recognising that change cannot be decreed but entails getting everyone on board. To do this you need to recognise that you cannot do it all yourself and so have to delegate and empower your people.

The perception of a “crisis of leadership” is not a lack of leaders, but rather:

  • A preoccupation with management and management techniques and measures; and
  • The failure to unleash all the latent leadership available.


And, the solution to both problems is the same. You need to optimise the potential of your people in order to realise their leadership qualities. The best way to do this – in fact the only way to do so – is to empower your people more, which entails:

  • Seeing them as the assets that you say they are, rather than purely as costs;
  • Giving them a clear vision and sense of purpose
  • Ensuring they are masters of their environment;
  • Giving them the autonomy they need to do whatever the situation demands;
  • Showing them that you appreciate them and their efforts;
  • Cementing trust by reducing the extent to which you monitor and manage them.

Leadership 123rf.com_22836408_sAnd remember, the ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model offers you the ideal way to achieve these objectives and  ensure that you remain ahead of the change curve and the pace of change.

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If you like what you have read contact me today to discuss how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.

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Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.

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