(2 minute read)

This month at TMSG, we’ve focused on the importance of People Management within a team or organisation, and shared resources and articles on this very theme.

The challenge within this focus, is the potential for a paradox. That is, should people be managed, or do they require leadership, and are the two in tension with each other?

While maintaining the status quo may not be the key intent or focus of managers, the title tends to suggest that there is some element of this within their role. Implementing and monitoring processes, strategies and vision are typically the remit of the manager. While they have the authority to delegate to others, people skills sometimes don’t rate as highly as performance management or the tracking of production or KPI’s.

Leaders are typically tasked with getting the best from the people on their team. Whether via inspiration, education or motivation, leaders aren’t reliant on a title to gain respect from their peers, it’s their influence through the examples they set that makes their efforts so admired.

Leaders operate from within a team, while managers typically have a more holistic and wider-angle view of how the business is operating and whether results or targets are being met or exceeded.

There are many quotes and articles focusing upon the difference between leaders and managers, of which the majority place the manager in a worst light than the leader. (Kathy Austin famously quoted, “Managers light a fire under people, while leaders light a fire within people.”)

To take a leaf from Ken Blanchard’s ‘Situational Leadership’ model, we can understand that sometimes people will benefit from a more direct approach to the ‘management’ of their tasks and performance. There are certain things that team members need in place for them to do their best work, and managers can provide this.

To complement this, people leaders can act as thermometers within the team, sensing and adjusting the level of motivation as needed, while striving to get the best from the team.

In summary, it may not be as simple as realising ‘when to kick and when to cuddle’, to use an old management phrase, but when and how to lead, and when and how to manage.

“When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we empower people to get the job done, we get leaders.” (Simon Sinek)


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