By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership
Question: What is the difference between management and leadership?
Answer: Legitimate Leadership has a very clear view of the distinction between management and leadership: management is what you apply to things; leadership pertains to people.
For organisational success and sustained results – organisational excellence – both management and leadership are required. So the distinction, for us, would be distilled by asking people, “what sounds right to you of the following two statements: you manage the inventory in the warehouse, or, you lead the inventory in the warehouse?” Obviously, you manage the inventory in the warehouse.
We are total advocates of the view that you should manage things like finances, systems, structures, facilities, etc. And we know that organisations which don’t manage tend not to succeed.
But our plea is: please don’t manage people, lead them. Because when you manage people, you reduced them to the status of things.
Conventional performance management systems received negative reviews at a recent Legitimate Leadership client-consultant workshop in Johannesburg entitled Reinventing Performance Management.
Comment on traditional systems was that they were often seen as a form of control and punishment – and occasionally reward.
One delegate described them as “the single most disengaging factor that employers use”.
Also, often conventional systems were “played” to get the required good scores.
Yet in the choice between software systems and more labour-intensive performance management approaches, software systems are generally preferred. This is probably because of two factors. Firstly, software is frequently sold as a silver bullet (but experience shows that this is unrealistic – that any success can only come from putting new behaviours in place). Secondly, legitimate leadership of any kind generally involves hard work and the courage to hold people accountable – and the turkey seldom votes for Christmas.
To remedy the negatives of conventional performance management systems, there was agreement among many delegates that the focus needed to shift to “forward-looking contribution”. Most of all, any system which would result in all employees trusting and contributing to it, should be sought.
The Legitimate Leadership Model is not about systems, said Wendy Lambourne, director of Legitimate Leadership. It is rather about cultivating relationships of trust. So no particular system should stop the application of the Legitimate Leadership Model in an organisation. Nonetheless, a performance management system which is aligned to Legitimate Leadership principles obviously is likely to work better.
A case study of one company, Singular Systems, which used the Legitimate Leadership Model in reinventing its performance management system, was described at the workshop – see Singular Systems: Reinventing Its Performance Management System. Following the reinvention, Singular Systems Cape Town achieved increased revenue growth year-on-year due, among other things, to focus on growing staff and driving individual contribution, said Dave Elliott, and executive of Singular Systems.
ARTICLE: LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP SHOULD BE NURTURED, NOT MANAGED OR CONTROLLED
By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.
Organisations do not transform overnight. This is because people are still people irrespective of technology. Humans, because they are human, require time to adapt and respond to change.
Legitimate Leadership, or being here to care for and grow others, actually begins in an organisation when one or more individuals who have been exposed to the Legitimate Leadership Model go away and do something with it. The positive results they accrue from doing so not only personally encourage them to continue, but provide an example(s) for others to follow.
The germination of the 16 Legitimate Leadership or care and growth practices, in other words, happen slowly and often takes time to be noticed. At some point however the principles and practices take root and gather momentum. Eventually a point is reached when some sort of critical mass has been achieved. “Care and growth” is then no longer the exception but the norm.
Cultivating an organisation which embodies the principles and spirit of Legitimate Leadership therefore requires patience and perseverance by all involved.
It is in recognition of this that the Legitimate Leadership process for a group of 15-20 leaders is typically 12-18 months in duration.
ARTICLE: INSTEAD OF DOING ADMIN, FRONTLINE MANAGERS SHOULD COACH THEIR EMPLOYEES AND CONSTANTLY IMPROVE QUALITY
By Aaron De Smet, Monica McGurk, and Marc Vinson, principals of consulting company McKinsey in the USA, writing in McKinsey Quarterly.
COMMENT BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP, ON THIS ARTICLE: For frontline managers to perform their care and growth role requires in the first instance a mindshift from seeing their jobs as getting results out of people to enabling excellence in them. This will only happen however if those people are given the means and ability to perform the role and then held accountable for doing so. The Legitimate Leadership process, run over 12-18 months, has consistently delivered the kind of frontline managers described in this article – in branch banking, in motor retail, in manufacturing, in call centres, and in fashion retail. For these Legitimate Leadership case studies, see (Fuelling Peformance in Fashion Retail, Opening A New Store A New Way, Care & Growth Impacts Motor Retail Results, Reflections On Implementing Care & Growth).
OUR EXCERPTS FROM THIS ARTICLE: A retail manager responsible for more than $80 million in annual revenue, an airline manager who oversees a yearly passenger volume worth more than $160 million, a banking manager who deals with upward of seven million questions from customers a year. These aren’t executives at a corporate headquarters; they are the hidden—yet crucial— managers of frontline employees.
Found in almost any company, such managers are particularly important in industries with distributed networks of sites and employees. These industries—for instance, infrastructure, travel and logistics, manufacturing, health care, and retailing (including food service and retail banking)—make up more than half of the global economy. Their district or area managers, store managers, site or plant managers, and line supervisors direct as much as two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for the part of the company that typically defines the customer experience. Yet most of the time, these managers operate as cogs in a system, with limited flexibility in decision making and little room for creativity. In a majority of the companies we’ve encountered, the frontline managers’ role is merely to oversee a limited number of direct reports, often in a “span breaking” capacity, relaying information from executives to workers.
Such managers keep an eye on things, enforce plans and policies, report operational results, and quickly escalate issues or problems. In other words, a frontline manager is meant to communicate decisions, not to make them; to ensure compliance with policies, not to use judgment or discretion (and certainly not to develop policies); and to oversee the implementation of improvements, not to contribute ideas or even implement improvements (workers do that). This system makes companies less productive, less agile, and less profitable, our experience shows.
Change is possible, however. At companies that have successfully empowered their frontline managers, the resulting flexibility and productivity generate strong financial returns.