Matthew Lotter

Managers Manage, Leaders Lead: Change in a Fast-Paced World

Being more adaptable, agile and responsive is required in an increasingly fast-paced world. Employees should be equipped with the required knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently navigate change and thrive in rapid changing environments.

To ensure this occurs, employees should always be the focus when initiating any change, followed by the resources that will be required to enable the intended outcomes. When leading and managing change, the first question should always be "what positive impacts will the change hold for our clients and employees?"; and, the second question should be "what resources and tools do we have or need to ensure the positive impacts occur?"

However, this type of mind-set will only be possible when employers realise the difference between management and leadership. Kotter (2001) proclaimed that management involves coping with complexity, whilst leadership requires coping with change. This then means that management deals with the immediate future by bringing order and consistency to product/service quality and profitability, while leadership deals with the long-term future by responding to external fast-paced environmental changes for organisational survival and competitiveness.

Management has also been defined as "... the process of getting things done effectively and efficiently, with and through people." That is, doing the right things (effectiveness) and doing things right (efficiency). In other words, management involves optimally using resources (efficiency) to attain the organisational goals (effectiveness).

Some people may argue that management functions comprise of setting a future change vision, mission, goals, strategies, plans (planning), establishing the line of authority by delegating responsibilities (organising), motivations and resolving conflict (leading) and evaluating performance (controlling). For instance, management is required to define the purpose of the organisational change, to arrange and structure the work for goal attainment, to direct and coordinate others work activities, as well as to monitor, compare and correct their performance. This requires management to play a role in interpersonal relationships, the transfer of information and decision-making to discover and capitalise on an individual or a group's uniqueness.

On the other hand, because leading is one of the four management functions, there is another argument that, ideally all managers should be leaders, but leaders do not necessarily have to form part of management. "Leadership is the process of leading a group and influencing that group to achieve its goals". As such, some scholars agree that the functions of leadership comprises of mapping a shared future change vision, mission, goals, strategies and plans for necessary changes to occur (setting direction), communicating and empowering individuals and groups to create partnerships to drive the new direction (aligning people), appealing to human emotions, needs and values during the drive (motivating), as well as recognising and celebrating change achievements and efforts for lifelong learning to occur (inspiring). It is also important to note that although leaders influence groups, they are also influenced by the needs and wants of their group members, as well as various external constituents As such, leadership does not solely focus on the leader's traits or behaviours, it involves situational (contextual) influences that determine the most appropriate way to interact with, inspire and support all stakeholders. The roles of leadership include coaching group members, liaising with external constituents managing conflict and troubleshooting to discover and capitalise on an individual or groups "universalness".

Managers Manage, Leaders Lead: Change in a Fast-Paced World Informatics

The question then arises whether the functions and roles of management and leadership should be assigned to one person/group or should different people/groups focus on either managing or leading a change. According to Kotter, some individuals/groups are more effective managers than leaders, whereas some individuals are more effective leaders than managers. However, there is another debate that professional management competencies should initially be developed and then augmented to include conceptual and human leadership competencies. Thereby, combining strong management and leadership in change and using each to balance the other, which seems like a viable solution. However, the best possible solution would be to groom individuals/groups to be both managers and leaders, namely, to comprehend the nature of change and remain flexible in a fast-paced changing world. Leading managers should be familiar with the psychology of change to formulate and implement a change strategy based on where the organisation and employees find themselves in the change cycle. Using the change cycle as a tool will enable employers and employees to collaboratively identify and successfully move through the stage that they find themselves. The idea is to focus more on finding innovative solutions, as opposed to resistance, and finding inspiration to develop and grow towards a better future. However, this strategy will only be beneficial should it be sustainable. That is, identifying the basis of success of the previous strategies and ensuring that these aspects are incorporated into the present and future strategies.

Accordingly, to enable organisations and employees to successfully navigate change and thrive in rapid changing environments requires the use of a change model that serves as a tool for self-assessment (identifying the current stage), awareness, accountability (moving beyond resistance) and sustainability through leadership towards greater outcomes.

 

Sources:

Bush, T. (2008). Educational leadership and management development [Online]. Available from: http://www.dphu.org/uploads/attachements/books/books_5057_0.pdf [Accessed: 05 April 2018].

Hill, L.A. (2005). Leadership development: a strategic imperative for higher education [Online]. Available from: https://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ffp0506s.pdf [Accessed: 05 April 2018].

Kotter, J.P. (2001). What leaders really do [Online]. Available from: http://learning.ucsf.edu/sites/learning.ucsf.edu/files/What Leaders Really Do.pdf [Accessed: 25 April 2019].

Martin, B., Breunig, M., Wagstaff, M. & Goldenberg, M. (2017). Outdoor leadership: theory and practice. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.

Robbins, S.P., Coulter, M.A. & DeCenzo, D.A. (2017). Fundamentals of management: essential concepts and applications. Midrand: Pearson.