Ask any mid to high level manager – the core of a company – what the difference is between management and leadership. Then sit back and enjoy either a discourse of an hour straight from “management 101” or observe the stuttering generalist mumblings of someone who really never thought about it.
“Management is about doing things right and leadership is about doing the right thing!” Sure. Now turn it around and observe that you actually just stated nothing.
“A manager thinks about content and a leader about direction.” Yep. But don’t you think it is the other way around as well? Perhaps only from a different perspective?
“Ehrm … isn’t that the same at some abstract level?” No, not really. And that is the reason why so many things come to a standstill in a company.
Okay, listen up. Here’s my bit: it really is astoundingly simple. And if you look at it from this point of view, you immediately understand that you don’t have to come to a standstill.
Management is about problems, leadership is about dilemmas. Full stop.
You “solve” a problem: mostly this concerns having lots of people adding information, making calculations and presenting you with options that in the end all point toward one solution. The manager then nods his head and everybody moves on.
Now try this with a dilemma and indeed you get derailed fast. There are more answers and directions and all lead toward an ugly horizon. Whatever you choose, you either move into unknown territory or you realize that it is going to be a shitty day, whatever. Try to “solve” that and you go crazy.
Leadership is about choices.
Bearing all consequences.
And being able to sleep at night. Or accepting that you are sometimes not.