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Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things

Introduction about Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management was a social commentator and preeminent business philosopher. Born on November 19, 1909, this management consultant wrote books and other scholarly articles, exploring the ways in which businesses; governments and the non-profit sectors of society get organized. His distinction between management and leadership has been a popular topic for debate for several years now.

Leadership- doing the right things

Leadership acts as a tool in settling on the best course of action to take- what are the things that should be done to reach our targets? But according to Drucker’s philosophy, leadership is strong and successful when the leader thinks through questions like ‘Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?

By ‘doing the right things’, he meant that effective leadership is considering the company’s mission, describing it and openly establishing it. It is a leader’s job to set clear goals for the company and define the standards needed to be maintained while achieving the goals. Being aware that he is not in control of the universe, he has to make compromises. This, however, he does once he has thought of the right and the desirable.

Drucker defines leadership as mundane, unromantic and boring. Its essence lies in performance. Effective leaders keep on checking their performance against the achievement of their goals. This practice helps them to analyse their choices and decide on what is important and needs immediate attention. It also assists them in identifying their strengths and recognizing their weaknesses. Regarding this, Drucker says:

‘I have seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things. They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done. They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters.’

Setting the right kind of goals plays a significant role in developing a successful leader. It is of extreme importance to set realistic achievable goals which fit in with the overall mission, keeping in mind the external constraints such as political, economical, and financial and internal constraints such as the current resources available and the interpersonal issues.

In accordance with this statement of his, lies the aspect of responsibility within leadership. Rank and privilege is not the core to leadership. It is, in fact, the sense of responsibility that the leader feels and exhibits that represents strong and reliable leadership. Hence, a successful leader is one who takes initiative to tackle a task and uses the given resources optimally to derive maximum benefit. Drucker claims America’s chief of army staff in World War II, General George Marshall, became a productive leader through responsibility and diligence. Such kinds of leaders do not fear the self-determined subordinates. Instead, they encourage their juniors, assisting them to reach their potential and accomplish all that they are capable of.

Being ambitious for a leader is far smaller a risk than being mediocre. An effective leader is also aware of the consequence that organizations face in case of the leader’s impeachment. In regard to this, Drucker rightly says:

‘An effective leader knows that the ultimate task of leadership is to create human energies and human vision’

Drucker at one point stresses over the effectiveness that every leader is expected to possess. Be it in a government agency, a hospital, a business, a labour union, a university or army, a leader seems to bear high intelligence and imagination only seconds it. Yet he lacks the vital link between his effectiveness and his intelligence, imagination or knowledge.

However, many leaders come in contact with the dangerous near successes traps which usually revolve around the mindset that one big push is all that is needed now. At such a stage, a leader should critically ask himself: ‘When should I stop pouring resources into things that have achieved their purpose?’ This clearly shows that an essential leadership task is knowing when something has been used to its fullest, with maximum benefit derived. Once this is discovered, a good leader would know that now is the time to stop and move on to newer things because there are no more returns to be enjoyed. To this, Drucker claims to have advised his friend Rick Wareen, in these words:

‘Don't tell me what you're doing, Rick. Tell me what you stopped doing."

A successful leader also manages to earn the utmost trust of his followers. This does not necessarily mean that the followers are expected to like him and agree with him at every point. Instead, Drucker finds the reflection of it in the term ‘integrity’- followers should know that their leader means what he says. He should be a man of his words. Hence, leadership calls for congruency in beliefs, words and actions. And it should be consistent as he says:

‘Effective leadership- and again this is very old wisdom-is not based on being clever; it is based primarily on being consistent.’

Management-doing the things right

Management as an institution has emerged rapidly and has had a huge impact so far. It has altered the social and economic structure of the developed countries. It has also impacted countries which participated in these economies as equal. Few executives recognize the tremendous force that management has.

According to Drucker, management follows leadership. It involves doing what has been pointed out by the leader. It is not a bag of techniques and tricks. Neither is it a bundle of analytical tools such as those taught in business schools. Management, with its successes and problems, is rather based on a few basic principles:

Management is about human beings. It is a critical, determining factor for organization which teaches people to perform with cooperation, capitalize on their strengths and ignore their weaknesses.

Management is rooted in culture since it involves bringing people closer in a common venture. Finding parts of history, tradition and culture which can be used as the management elements is the basic challenge faced by the managers in developing countries.

Commitment to common goals is essential for any enterprise to function successfully. Clear objectives defining a common vision is a prerequisite to its success. A manager is expected to think carefully and then set objectives, goals and the values to be demonstrated which he can later exemplify. Once the manager has identified a well rounded mission statement and goals and communicated it effectively at every level of the organization, there is a good chance that the venture will succeed. This is because all employees will have a sense of direction which will make them aim at a common objective.

Growth and development of the enterprise and each of its members also results from management. Training and development should be established on all levels of institution.

Communication and individual responsibility are the basis upon which any enterprise flourishes. All the people working in it, from different backgrounds and possessing different skills, should be working towards reaching a common aim, cooperating with each other simultaneously

The quantity of output does not depict the performance of management and neither that of enterprise. It is in fact elements like market standing, innovation, productivity, development of people, quality and financial position which give a clear picture of the performance and survival of an enterprise.

The enterprise is different with regard to its insides and outsides. The result only exists on the outside, which, for a business would be a satisfied customer. Lying on the insides of an enterprise are only its costs.

Managers who understand these principles and adopt them in their course of action will develop into achieving managers. Thus by doing the right things, Drucker meant that a perfect manager is one who gets things done efficiently.

Management has different dimensions to it and one of these is managing people. Drucker initially believed that there has to be one well defined way to manage people. But the work of Abraham H. Maslow in his book Eupsychian Management deeply influenced him and he became an immediate convert. Maslow had given enormous evidence about how different people should be managed in different ways.

Argument - Comparison

It has been quite a fascinating debate as to whether leadership and management can co-exist. Other similar questions in this context are concerned with which of the two is more important. Evidence suggests that both are vital for any organization. And both can co-exist. In fact, the relationship between leadership and management can be described as being interdependent. By comprehending the difference between the two and sticking to their core structure, a leader and a manager together, can make the workplace much more productive.

Stephen Covey demonstrates the difference between leadership and management by observing the pattern of functioning of a corporate leader. He spent most of his time managing day to day operations. To ensure maximum production, he worked with his managers, engaging with them. This was prior to learning about leadership. Once he got enlightened with the whole idea behind leadership, he quit taking care of the day-to-day operations. Instead, he explored the trends, examined data and began investigating ways for his company to remain competitive. In order to achieve this, he began setting strategic objectives for growth. As a result, corporate profits rose beyond 50% within a year, after years of sluggish pace at which the company grew.

This example visibly shows how leadership diminished when the leader was trying to fill a manager’s place too. Once he established strong leadership with focus on the achievement of strategic objectives, his company further progressed. Thus, it verifies that management is all about assessing the strength and weaknesses of people and assigning them adequate tasks to reach the optimum output (efficiency) where as leadership involves defining the set of actions needed to finish off those tasks and provides the drive, creates the energy to remain focused (effectiveness). Drucker at one place said:

‘Effectiveness (leadership) has to do with quality—the right direction; and efficiency (management) has to do with time.’

Conclusion

To conclude, it is justified to say that both leadership and management are much more broad terms than perceived. Both are equally complex institutions, but nonetheless, essential for any organization’s success. For an organization to succeed, it is vital that they find a balance between the two institutions, i.e leadership and management. This is because only if both the functions are effectively performed can a business operate in this competitive environment. Both are important jobs. While one gives the corporation a sense of purpose, the other provides it with the push in the right direction. Thus, Peter Drucker has accurately pointed out differences between the two and has given the professionals an insight to the fundamentals of an effective leadership and an efficient management system, which when coupled can lead a business to new heights of prosperity.

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