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Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021

Why is it that the word “management” is so prevalent in our workplaces when study after study highlights the desperate need for “leadership”? North American companies spend upwards of 15 billion dollars a year on leadership education and yet the Deloitte study Global Human Capital Trends 2014 of 2532 businesses throughout 94 different countries concluded that:

“Leadership remains the No. 1 talent issue facing every industry and every sector around the world, with 86 percent of respondents in the survey rating it as ‘urgent’ or ‘important.’”

The study concluded that companies face an urgent need to develop leaders at all levels: from bringing younger leaders online faster to keeping senior leaders relevant and engaged longer. Yet if you look at the most prestigious schools in Canada the focus is management (e.g. Telfer School of Management, Ted Rogers School of Management, Rotman School of Management etc.)  But, where is leadership? As Peter Townsend, author of the seminal work Up the Organization, commented, “the world doesn’t need another MBA, it needs leaders.”

Management and leadership are not the same and are not interchangeable concepts. Management is focused on process, rules and material things while leadership is focused on people. The currency of management is rules while the currency of leadership is influence. Influence is developed over time with a consistent and sustained effort of engagement with those around us.

Regardless of whether you are the designated leader, if you have taken the time to build meaningful relationships with those around you, you can influence. Influence can be used up, down and sideways to persuade in a 360 degree circle around you.

Conversely, you can only manage those things that have been formally given to you such as a budget. The focus of management is strictly downwards. The term “managing your boss” or “managing up” are phases without meaning because your boss has not been given to you to control. You cannot manage up but you can influence up.

One important lesson I learned in my 34 year military career is if you focus on your people and invest in meaningful relationships then your road to success is a much easier one. There will be days when your best is not enough and on those days your people will carry you. There will be days when your people’s best is not enough and on those days, you will carry them.   As the current commander of the US Air Force General Mark Welsh says,

“Leadership is a gift.

It is given by those who follow, but

You have to be worthy of it.”

What are you doing to develop your own leadership skills, to address our collective Number 1 Talent Issue?