I’m writing this post for my bestest friend who commented the other day about finding herself president of an organization when she didn’t know much about how it worked. While understanding what an organization does and how it does it is important, the president’s role determines whether or not it is critical to know everything from the get-go. Some presidents are leaders, others are managers.
Now I have no doubt that Suna [oops, I wasn’t supposed to name names in this post] can learn how the organization works and do it very quickly. But that’s really only critical if she views the role as management. If it’s a leadership position, it’s more important for her to build consensus (something she’s really, really good at) and point the direction.
Here’s the distinction:
Leaders identify what to do.
Managers figure out how to do it.
And technicians (workers) focus on the tasks needed to do it.
I am used to speaking in the E-Myth nomenclature, but I’ve found many people who haven’t read Michael Gerber’s excellent book are thrown by the term “Entrepreneur.” In the corporate world, people who function as entrepreneurs are more likely to be called “executives,” but not all executives are entrepreneurs and not all entrepreneurs are effective leaders. The difference often boils down to vision and leadership. And while leadership is much more likely to be implemented in an organization when it comes from the top down, people who exhibit leadership tend to rise to the top of the pyramid. But when I speak of a Leadership Team, I mean people who operate to provide leadership at the Entrepreneurial or Executive level.
Every organization needs all three roles—leaders (entrepreneurs or executives), managers, and technicians. In smaller organizations, the same person may have to fill all three. In very large ones, the leaders may not even know that the form that says a product needs to be reordered exists. A technician may be very invested in box 3A on that form. A manager wants to remove as many obstacles as possible in getting the product to the customer. A different manager may be more interested in getting the customer’s money as efficiently as possible. But the leader says, “Let’s sell this widget and provide a better customer experience than anyone else.” The leader focuses on the what and the why. Managers and workers focus on the how.
In our business, the leaders set goals for how many houses we will buy and sell and how if we should hold any of them for longer-term goals. The management team decides which specific deals we should look at. But before they can decide, the workers have to find opportunities. When we have a deal, project managers oversee the renovation; the finance manager finds the money and makes sure it is spent in support of the goals leadership has set.
What some leaders fail to grasp is that all three roles are critical. None can exist without the other two.
I really wish I had understood this concept while I was still working in the corporate world. It would have made great difference in my ability to get along with and respect leaders who had no idea about the nuts and bolts of what the job was. I was by definition a technician. Even as a manager, I was a technician who focused on what worked and what didn’t.
But if I had understood better, I might never have broken away.
As it is, I get to work in all three roles, and I love working in all three roles. And Suna gets to work in all three, too.Hermann says please like and share!