Management vs. Leadership


If you’ve been looking for a new and more effective task management app for your mobile phone or tablet, you may have noticed a trend in what’s being offered in the App Store or Play Marketplace.  Many of these apps are geared to “team” productivity, designed not just for use by one person, but for sharing information across one’s team.  As we’ve moved from the era of the PDA (remember those Palm devices?), into the era of the SmartPhone, these tools which provided promise for improved personal productivity have become products for managers to evaluate and push out information to their team, or view how their team is using their time.

From a production standpoint, it makes sense.  Why would an app developer simply create something that’s meant for only one person to benefit from?  In today’s world of connectivity, a developer can create a program, and then try to sell it to thousands of individuals.  That takes a lot of marketing dollars, time, and hope to accomplish.  Or, a developer could target the app to one who influences a team of 5, 10, 25 or more individuals, and create a network of users that buy 25 apps at a time, rather than simply taking a single user/single sale approach.

The pricing for these team applications are very different from the traditional marketplace as well.  In the past, consumers were used to “volume discounts,” where buying in larger quantities created a lower per unit pricing structure.  With “team apps,” an “Enterprise” solution has more features and benefits than does the “Individual” solution, and therefore, a premium price can be exacted.  Instead of $25 per month per person, developers can charge $125 per month per person.

The other trend in business is the explosion of articles and texts published in recent years on the difference between management and leadership.  While the Harvard Business Review is arguably still the “go to” source for articles pertaining to best practices in business administration, magazines like “Fast Company” research what’s trending now, spotlighting successful innovation brought about by rapidly changing technologies.  Additionally, an abundance of texts by authors like Scott McKain, Greg McKeown, Jim Collins, Stan Phelps, Simon Sinek, and Patrick Lencioni are targeted to the business world, offering insights of what makes companies good or great, how to focus on what’s really essential for success, where companies should start to reimage their brand, or what today’s customers expect from the companies they do business with.  All these resources are categorized as “business” publications.

And there are two problems with that.

Firstly, there are two distinctions within business, namely management and leadership, and secondly, the prevailing thought is that anything categorized as “business” pertains to the silo of commerce.

Let’s look at those distinctions first.  The graphic in this article provides a great delineation between leading and managing.  In educational terms, managing is left-brain, logical, cognitive; leading, however, is right-brain, emotional, cognitive.  The overlapping center describes the kinesthetic actions that result from the synergy.  It’s important to understand, however, that leadership is not management and management is not leadership.  Remember the first paragraph of this article about apps?   Apps are management tools, and tools are management-focused.

Even in the garage, tools are required to put things together.  Bring home a box from a local “put-together” furniture store and you have the pieces, the nuts and bolts, and the instructions that provide direction, as well as a vision of what the final product should look like.  You still need tools to make it happen.  And, the better the tools, better the project comes to fruition.  And sometimes, we need to read this instructions first, and they may outline the tools necessary (and not included) to complete the project.

While tools are management’s device, the blueprints as well as the components (that is, the vision, policies, and strategies) are the responsibility of leadership.  Once that distinction has been made, we can now put the term “Educational” before the terms “Management” and “Leadership.”  Suddenly, all those things in the “Business” world now pertain to the Education space.  Moreover, seeing how the terms in the graphic are relevant to today’s challenges in education, one can come to the realization that education is indeed a business, and must be treated as such.

Perhaps one of the problems in recognizing the parallels is that we don’t apply the “Educational” label consistently to each of the terms.  “Educational Leadership” is a common term in the education space today, but the terms “Education Management” and “Educational Management” are both utilized.  While the former is readily associated with managing an educational institution, the latter can be incorrectly correlated to a style of management, where managers in the for-profit world view situations as trainable moments (as opposed to teachable moments) for those who report to them.

Since how we talk about things is a result of how we think about things, it’s helpful to know that team management and team leadership are not the same, either.  In addition to setting the vision, leadership is necessary to provide an analysis of reports from management, the synthesis of those results, and the systems thinking necessary to develop the innovation to reach the vision.