Friday, September 20, 2013

Lean Quote: Being Managed Versus Being Led

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"People cannot be "managed." They can be led. Products and processes can be managed." — Karen Martin

While the terms "management" and "leadership" overlap a little, they are not the same thing—although you can't have one without the other. Management is tough enough on its own and, frankly, most people never learn to lead.

Why do we use the word manager?  It does not seem to identify well what a person is meant to do when given a team of individuals to work with.  A manager controls, handles and directs.  That sounds pretty hard when what we are referring to being managed is people.  The word “manager” is great when referring to the management of processes, procedures, technique, communications, relationships, etc.  When referring to an individual who is made accountable for a group of people, the word “leader” seems more appropriate.  People do not like to be managed, they would rather be led: given goals to achieve, techniques to learn from and follow, and review to let them know how they are doing.

Leading by example is a great way to start.  Why would anyone follow a procedure if their leader does not?  If you want your team to say something during the ordering process then you too should be saying it every time!  If you want your team to take a specific action while performing a task, then you should be taking that same action every time. You cannot just tell your team what to do if you want them to continue to do it even when you are not watching.  You have to show them that it needs to be done, even if you have to do it yourself.  Your team will take notice and they will respect you for expecting no less from yourself than you expect from them.  They will then have no reason not to do what you are asking, no excuses.

When a person is given the title of manager, they should keep in mind that they have been given the authority to manage processes and procedures.  They have also been given the opportunity to lead a team of people to do something better than they ever did before!

Do you like to be managed or led? You're not alone. Very few people want to work for a manager. Most of us would much rather be led by a leader. To manage is to control, handle, or manipulate. To lead is to guide, influence, or persuade. You manage things — systems, processes, and technology. You lead people. The roots of the rampant morale, energy, and performance problems found in many organizations are technomanagers who treat people as "human resources" to be managed. If you want to manage someone, manage yourself. Once you master that, you'll be a much more effective leader of others. 

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1 comment:

  1. This is a great reminder to think about the ways we people. Too often those who push continuous improvements forget that respect for people is equally important (and often more challenging).

    It's also a good reminder to reflect on how we manage processes and procedures, which must be kept up to date when they are improved.

    In a slightly different way, H. Ross Perot said the same type of thing, "Inventories can be managed, but people must be led."