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

The military is known for producing good leaders. This series features leadership wisdom from former Canadian military leaders now in private enterprise. In each article, a military Leadership Trait will be described by a former military leader, and then applied to business.

Leadership VS Management

For the last thirteen years of my military career I was the Chair of the Department of Command and Leadership at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. I was responsible to develop and deliver all leadership courses at the college. My focus was executive leadership development for selected members of the Canadian Forces and Federal Public Service. Consequently, I spent a lot of time researching leadership, and listening to practitioners from all sectors.

Leadership and management are two fundamentally different concepts that are focused on very different outcomes.

Leadership is about people and building relationships. Leadership is focused on influence. Leadership is messy because in dealing with people you become involved with the emotions, desires, strengths and weaknesses of each individual.

If you have one leadership style you will be irrelevant to 80% of the people who work for you because one style will only motivate a small fraction of your people. Effective leaders must understand and employ a range of behaviours. In the CF, we teach our leaders about the six acceptable leadership behaviours: directive, achievement-oriented, persuasive, supportive, participative, and delegation-based. The art of leadership is determining the best behavior to employ in a given situation with each of the people involved. The only way to accomplish this is to know your people.

Management is about processes and material things. You cannot manage people – you have to lead them. You can manage everything about that person as an employee through HR processes that determine salary, benefits, etc. but when it comes to the actual individual you have to interact with them. That is why leadership is focused on influence. Management issues typically have a right or wrong answer. In the leadership domain the success scale is measured from better to worse.

Most positions require both leadership and management skills from the leader. You have people that report to you and you have also been allocated resources such as a budget to manage. The key for leaders is to manage the tension between the leadership requirements (influencing people) and the management skills (managing processes). Leadership strives for effectiveness and management strives for efficiency. Sometimes you have to be inefficient in order to be effective. Making the call is the leader’s domain.

Written by Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Angelo N. Caravaggio OMM, CD, Ph.D.