Are You Leading or Managing? Are You Sure?

(This is the second in a series of posts on “leading vs managing.” If you want to keep up, signing up for the newsletter is the best way. /shamelessplug)

leading-vs-managing-ab-1-728In the introduction to this series, I laid out the distinction between leading and managing. Essentially, I said that those are shorthand for “managing the work” and “leading the people.” These are the two essential jobs of any kind of leader: deliver results, and build people.

Whenever I lay out this admittedly basic idea, I almost always get lots of head nods around the room. People understand it, and they agree with it. “Yep, we have to do both.” If I then ask them if they themselves do both parts of their job, most people again nod their heads. But if I press the point and ask them how they know, they become less certain.

There are actually three very simple tests you can use to see if you are balancing these two facets of being a leader. Here they are:

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How to Fight for Change Without Being Mean

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I do more and more writing on this page, as I try to do more and more advocacy, AND as we prepare to launch a progressive community site for the city. There are some truths that I operate from, that seem to be at odds with each other:

  • Silence is not an option.
  • Bad ideas, policies, and actions must be challenged.
  • Change only happens when either the leaders decree it (top-down) or when enough people want it (bottom-up).
  • Evil must be challenged. (And yes, there are “evil” acts and other things in the world.*)
  • People themselves are not evil.
  • Satire and snark are sometimes the best way to call out bad ideas, bad policies, and bad actions.
  • We are all part of the human race, and brothers and sisters because of that.
  • You don’t mistreat your brothers and sisters.
  • Hate is not an option.

So, on the one hand, we have to be active in the fight against the bad, willing to call out others and take unpopular stands, hoping to win enough people over to our side to effect change from the bottom-up. On the other hand, we must do it in such a way that we do not hate, we must not turn those we oppose into the Other, and we must remember that ultimately we are one family.

This is hard. To do this well and consistently is really, really hard.

But we must find a way.

So, here are some guidelines I’m adopting for myself, and possibly for this new site I’m helping launch:

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Leader, Manager, Predator, Shepherd

(A Lection Reflection on Mark 6 and Psalm 23) (also part of the Leadership series)

Fire up the Google machine and put in “sheep without a shepherd,” “Jesus as shepherd,” “the Good Shepherd,” or “the Lord is my shepherd.” You’ll find a gazillion sermons, blog posts, and web pages talking about church members as sheep, Jesus as shepherd, why us poor humans need shepherding, and so on.

This post isn’t one of those.

Instead, let’s take a different approach. Let’s answer two questions:

  1. What are the differences between leader, manager, predator, and shepherd?
  2. What does being a “good shepherd” mean? And should we try to emulate that?

I’ve got two different blog threads going here, and I’m going to take this opportunity to weave them together. Let’s see if it works — join me below the jump.

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Leading vs Managing — An Introduction

(This is the first in a series of posts on “leading vs managing.” If you want to keep up, signing up for the newsletter is the best way. /shamelessplug)

leading-vs-managing-ab-1-728There is a great site on the interwebz called Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition. It’s Don Clark’s site about leadership, learning, training, and performance improvement. There is a quiz on there about today’s topic, and the quiz includes two statements that you have to rate in importance:

Nothing is more important than accomplishing a goal or task.
Nothing is more important than building a great team.

Of course, everyone taking the quiz asks how both of these can be true, and Don answers from his Army days —

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