Guest Post by Shanan Sorochynski
A big part of my job is tied to supporting our university’s leaders.
But I’ve never stopped and thought about what leadership really is.
Fortunately, the faculty, staff and students are always around to enlighten me.
A couple of weeks ago we posted a series of videos and articles they contributed to the University’s official blog that explored the issue of leadership in preparation for the annual female-focused Inspiring Leadership conference that the institution hosts.
Image: Denis Collette . . . !!! via Flickr, CC 2.0
Usually when I organize a video shoot there is a fair bit of discussion with the person appearing in it about what they are going to be talking about on camera.
Side note: When you work at a university you sometimes get to do cool things like talk to experts about Reaganomics, the housing bubble, and Enron.
Anyway, while Business Administration professor Ronald Camp and I decided that his topic should be about the benefits of male and female leadership, it was our pre-filming conversation about the differences between managers and leaders that struck me.
I thought all managers were leaders.
What I gathered from the conversation was that a leader is someone who gets people to embrace an idea and mobilizes them to act.
A manager, on the other hand, is someone who makes sure people are doing what they need to in order to produce a consistent end-product.
Social media practitioners are hybrids.
They need to be both leaders and managers.
They are leaders in the sense that, in many cases, they need to be able to persuade people to examine their commitment to the status quo and take a calculated risk on something relatively foreign to them.
They also need to motivate people to not only buy in to the idea of social media but actively participate in it. They need people to contribute their writing, their ideas, share content etc. etc. etc.
Image: Wisconsin historical images via Flickr, CC 2.0
But, once they succeed and everyone is on board with the joys of two (and three)-way online communication, there is still work to be done.
Social media practitioners are often needed as managers.
A different kind of balancing act
If, like me, you are responsible for a communication product, you organize writers, work with photographers and videographers, fill an editorial calendar etc. etc. etc.
One of the challenges I struggle with is keeping a balance between leadership and management roles.
I don’t want to get to the point where the day-to-day tasks of managing the site preoccupy me to a point that I neglect evaluating (and re-evaluating) long-term strategy.
I don’t want to be thinking about new ways to build and maintain a blog if that’s not the tool we should be using. I also don’t want to miss whatever is next.
Side note: I’m really hoping that next thing is Inception-style meetings where stakeholders and I can flip buildings upside down while catching a half hour nap all before noon.
I also don’t want to let the quality of the blog slide to chase new projects.
And don’t get me started on all the other roles that warrant attention (and don’t get enough of it): friend, sister, daughter, foodie, recent yogini…
So how do you maintain that balance between being a leader and a manager?
Is there a balance or does one of those roles inevitably (or should it) take the bulk of your focus and energy?
Shanan Sorochynski manages the University of Regina’s first official blog: YOURblog. Previous to this she was the managing editor of U of R Report, the University’s faculty and staff internal publication, and a print journalist in Manitoba.
A leader, manager, director all of those feasibly look out for how the work is being streamlined and focused in order to match up with the destination. One of the way that every higher authority people look out for is the proper management of tasks and setting up the strategy for the fellow workers to meet the deadline to complete the work process. One of the tool that we preferably use to help manage the tasks of a leader is the cloud based task management software from Replicon ( http://www.replicon.com/olp/task-management-software.aspx ) which is a hassle free tool and is featured with the user friendly and calendar based interface that makes it an intuitive tool to work with.
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@JGoldsborough “a leader puts those people in the right position and then trusts them to do the right thing” – exactly, IMHO. And I think that’s @mdbarber ‘s point of view as well.
Justin, really interesting point about semantics. On the other hand, isn’t a lot of what we discuss potentially semantics? So much lies in the perception of words, or the images/feelings they evoke, even though they may mean similar things…
@Shanan True – about there being little glory in maintenance – but often that’s where the real success lies, doesn’t it?
Social media types do have to have management skills, but I believe that leadership & evangelism is needed more. Show folks the benefits and guide them in their social media efforts, leading them to discover their own potential. Yep, you’ll have to manage/juggle several priorities at once, at least until you can get additional budget dollars to hire some help! ;^)
The terms we use here are a bit of semantics. Because I actually have always seen the word manager in a negative context, because it makes me think of a micro-manager like @Shonali described in her comment. But I digress…
The quote in your post that stuck out to me was “a leader is someone who gets people to embrace an idea and then mobilizes them to act.” I’d take that one step further and add that a leader puts those people in the right position and then trusts them to do the right thing.
Leaders teach by that mobilization you refer to, always keeping a larger goal in mind and allowing the people on their teams to execute and excel why they only worry about what’s in the best interest of the team. I’ve been lucky enough to have bosses like this and you see teammates thrive in this style of leadership.
Managers are worried about control. And an eye on control is a short-term vision that misses the bigger picture and often keeps people from reaching their potential. That’s how I’ve always differentiated manager versus leader, thus my point about semantics. But I will give you that there are times when a leader needs to step in an manage a situation. The key IMO is that they know when that time is and never overdo it.
Cheers, Justin. Shanan, nice to meet you.
Really interesting post here and I kind of like the distinction in the post except that I believe a leader also has to have some manager skills. I don’t think all managers are leaders but leaders need to also manage to be successful.
What strikes me is that many leaders aren’t openly leading but instead the best are mentoring and nurturing to create new leaders. They keep their eye on the long term strategy while also helping with those day to day tasks and enabling the successes of their team.
Leadership is appealing. Leaders make shiny new things. Managers maintain old things. There is little glory in maintenance. Leaders get to “shake things up”, “move things forward”. Managers provide consistency, offer stability.
Shanan, I loved this post (as you know!). I think a lot of folk struggle with the balance you describe. Part of it is also the connotation that comes with the words/terms/positions, isn’t it? One might “feel” better than another.
I don’t know that I’ve found the perfect balance, but when I’ve been in leadership positions, some of the best times have been when I’ve done exactly what you say: helped the team members understand what we need to do, why it’s important and then empower them to act. Empowerment is so important; of course they have to understand the parameters of their actions, but the worst thing in the world, IMHO, is to hover over someone so that they feel they have to report every single thing back to you on a minute-by-minute basis. Put structures in place for that, educate folks, hold them accountable for the results, and then let them go off and do their thang.
I’d love to know what hackmanj , mdbarber and jgoldsborough think of this too…