High Performance: The Leadership / Management Balance
“Most failing Organisations are over-managed and under-led”
‘Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results, now that is the definition of insanity’
‘My employees are Malas!’(Bahasa word for ‘lazy’) – the CEO exclaimed with compounded frustration that made his lips tremble. His eyes surveyed me with both hope (that I as a consultant could help save his company) and irritation (For having to pay a significant amount of money for that hope.)
From experience, I provided an unexpected yet generally true statement as an answer. My answer was designed to ‘shake his tree’, for his own sake, because it is a somber fact that most change interventions fail as a result of the CEO or top managements’ unwillingness to change –
‘There is no such thing as lazy employees, they are just uninspired. Show me a person who is sincerely inspired and lazy at the same time. It is a core function of Leadership to inspire and also a key responsibility’
A big constraint in scaling and developing businesses is that people in leadership positions purely manage the people in their care and do not lead them in general. This brings us to a general but powerful distinction between leadership and management.
Leadership is to inspire people. Management is to control people.
Both Leadership and management are definitely needed. Purely inspire people with no measure of control and for sure chaos will reign. Only control people without any inspiration and the life ‘will be sucked’ out of them. From the above, it is wise to deduct that a key requirement of sustainable business performance is to maintain the delicate balance between Leadership and management.
Whenever company standard operational procedures are ‘stacked up to the ceiling’ and inspiration is nowhere to be found we are observing two critical symptoms of a larger problem which is the existence of a toxic culture.
In spite of having an excellent product and a large amount of marketing dollars to spend a persistent toxic culture is a fatal illness when it comes to business.
Employees, in general, see the need for control measures, standard operating procedures and other rules and regulations when they –
- Clearly, understand the use for them
- Feel that they are really helpful in improving their performance
- Are updated and transformed when not applicable anymore
- Are removed if not effective
- Are clearly explained in a positive way from the start
- When they are inspired to achieve by top management
- Love their jobs and find a degree of fulfillment therein
- Are listened to when raising sincere concerns about certain procedures or rules
- Have the opportunity to improve procedures and systems if they are able to do so
Employees, in general, feel inspired when they –
- Are celebrated
- Cared for as people
- See the willingness of top management to change for the better
- Buy into the Vision and purpose of the company
- Find their own life purpose
- When what is communicated by the top management translates into action
- Celebrate ‘small wins’ for the team together
- Have a voice to speak up
- Do not have to fear consequences for speaking up
- Share common values
- Are rewarded in a fair way
- Treated with respect
- See the positive impact of the business on society
- Experience the communication from top management as clear, frequent, fair and predominately positive
- Can be creative
- Have room to breathe
- Are positively mentored
- See top management as positive role models
- Onboarded in a highly professional, appreciative and inspirational way
- Experience empathetic listening
- When they can also focus on their own mental and physical wellness
- Have attainable growth opportunities within the company
A twenty-one-year-old barber treated my beard as if it was an artwork. I was surprised by his ability to explain his future plans with great clarity to me and the level of planning he executed in order to empower him to reach his goals was astounding.
As I reach for my glass, a mixture of lemon and lime was dutifully waiting to quench my thirst, I had to ask the question:
‘Where did you learn all of this?’ He underpinned his answer with a smile of gratitude and pride :
‘From our company CEO’
‘All employees from close to two hundred outlets learn this from him? I asked with my surprise deepening into a well of amazement’
‘Yes, he said as his light feet carried him towards a warm towel.
A CEO that truly cares yet truly understands business at the same time. Inspired employees with skills far better than average. A burning desire for self and company improvement. Now, that is powerful!
Dirk Coetsee is a co-founder of Custom Performance Coaching(CPC). He is an international High Performance coach specializing in the creation of a High-Performance culture for companies and is a Performance coach to individuals.