The Power of ‘And’


I probably ought to walk away from the keyboard right now and not write this article. Because I'm cranky. My Mother always said "Take a deep breath, count to 10 slowly and reassess what you're thinking of doing." Good advice Mum - I'm going to ignore it today though...

See, I'm getting so tired of the 'either/or' arguments or exhortations that keep getting posted on LinkedIn. This morning's is "You hired them for their strengths. Why focus on their weaknesses?" Ugh! Now don't get me wrong, I understand and to some degree agree with the sentiment. Statistics show that the yield from strengthening strengths certainly surpasses the yield from strengthening weaknesses. But, what? We should stick our fingers in our ears and sing "Lah, lah lah!" at the top of our voices while studiously ignoring the glaring deficiency that a team member exhibits? Hell no! That's plain stupid! So, please stop suggesting that we take one path over another.

A gent by the name of Craig R. Hickman wrote "Mind of a manager. Soul of a leader" back in the 90's and in the opening pages he posed a question along the lines of "What do we need more of today, managers? Or leaders?". It was a trick question. In a much later chapter he answers the question himself... "Yes". We need more of both! Hickman observed that in the critical areas that 'executives' need to focus:

Competitive Strategy/Advantage Focus:

Managers . . .

Leaders . . .

Concentrate on Strategy Nurture Culture
Consider Dangers Sense Opportunity
Follow Versions Pursue Visions
Isolate Correlate
Determine Scope of Problems Search for Alternative Solutions
Seek Markets Serve People
Think Rivals / Competition Think Partners / Cooperation
Design Incremental Strategies Lay Out Sweeping Strategies
Correct Strategic Weaknesses Build on Strategic Strengths

 

Organisational Culture/Capability:

Managers . . .

Leaders . . .

Wield Authority Apply Influence
Seek Uniformity Pursue Unity
Administer Programs Develop People
Formulate Policy Set Examples
Instruct Inspire
Manage by Goals / Objectives Manage by Interaction
Control Empower
Easily Release Employees Would Rather Enhance Employees
Employ Consistency Elicit Creativity

 

External/Internal Change:

Managers . . .

Leaders . . .

Yearn for Stability Thrive on Crisis
Duplicate Originate
Fasten Things Down Unfasten Them
Drive Toward Compromise Work to Polarise
See Complexity See Simplicity
React Proactive
Plan Experiment
Reorganise Redevelop
Refine Revolutionise

 

Bottom-Line Performance/Results:

Managers . . .

Leaders . . .

Scrutinise Performance Search for Potential
Are Dependent Are Independent
Compensate People Satisfy Them
Conserve Assets Risk Them
Pursue the Tangible Seek the Intangible
Inhabit the Present Reside in the Future
Concentrate on Short-term Results Seek Long-term Results
Want Good Demand Better

 

Individual Effectiveness Style:

Managers . . .

Leaders . . .

Ask How (Seek Methods) Wonder Why (Seek Motives)
Think Logically Think Laterally
Perpetuate Hierarchies Strive for Equality
Are Skeptical Are Optimistic
Plan Around Confront
Take Charge Encourage Delegation
Like Formality Prefer Informality
Venerate Science Revere Art
Perform Duties Pursue Dreams

 

Now, I don't know about you but I can't even begin to imagine an organisation surviving, let alone thriving without an appropriate balance of both of those sets of focii. As Peter Drucker famously noted "Management is about doing things right. Leadership is about doing right things." They both need doing.

From where I sit I believe that one of the greatest 'influences' that is present in the business-world today - and that most people seem to struggle with - is ambiguity. And as a consequence one the most critical competencies any of us can possess in this day and age is the ability to 'manage the and'. Either/or has no place in today's world (or today's society - don't get me started on the 'othering' that governments around the world have long promoted in order to exact more control over their citizens and marginalise others).

So, lets strengthen our people's strengths AND strengthen their weaknesses. Please!

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