I can go on for hours about leadership theory and motivation theory. I can talk to you about behavioral science, industrial and organizational psychology, management strategy, talent management, performance management and motivation theory. But I won’t. I will spare you the time and keep it simple for you this morning. Good leadership and good management is all about matching the right people with the correct tasks.
It is really about what weight you give to each and how you balance the push and pull demands of both in an organization. If you want to be a good leader, you focus on people and the systems that support them. If you want to be a good manager, you focus on the tasks, their interdependencies across an organization and how they align to the overall business strategy. If you want to be a great manager and leader, you focus on both and you determine what levers to pull and when.
To be great you need to learn how to scan your environment and keep an eye on what pressures are impacting the tasks or your people. You need to understand how the systems operate, the policies that dictate the way work gets done and how people interact. The balance of being a great leader and manager comes into play when decisions need to be made that impact both.
It becomes a balance when you have to implement policies that impact the people but benefit the tasks. It is about understanding the downstream impacts on your people and anticipating the reactions and behaviors that will result. Conversely, it is also about how to navigate decisions about people that impact tasks and the way work gets done. Balancing the two is what differentiates good from great. It is not rocket science, but it does require expert ability.
We tend to make management and leadership more complex than it needs to be. Granted, the world we operate in is vastly different than it used to be and the workplace has become more complex. But the basic tenants of good leadership and management still hold true.
In the end, it is ultimately about the intersection of people and tasks.