Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. Instinctively, it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
– Christopher McDougall, Author of Born to Run
Businesses in an open economy reflect the African survival story; you run a race every day. Managers and leaders are in the race. The race is fuelled by money.
In the race, it is most important that you know who you are. You may believe that lions are stronger than gazelles. The predator is stronger than the prey. But without the gazelle, the lion will not – cannot- survive. And remember; lions do not kill for pleasure. They do not exercise power on a whim; they kill when they must.
What are the necessary qualities of a manager, a leader? What is the difference between a manager and a leader? Is Barack Obama a leader? Is Bill Gates a leader? A better leader than say….. Mother Teresa? Is a leader wealthy? Think of the Mahatma. Does he command armies? Think of many religious leaders.
A leader is a man, or woman, with an idea that he is not afraid to teach, practice and promote. A leader is a person with vision and necessarily, charisma. The skills of management enable him to be influential, to guide others, to mould circumstance to fit the need. Managers oversee, direct and coordinate others so that an end goal is reached.
Leadership and Management are two distinctive and complementary courses of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities, and both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing business environment. The trick for you is to synthesize both sets of skills; if management is about coping with complexity, leadership is about coping with change.
Where leadership begins by setting a direction, management sets about realizing that direction firstly by formulating plans and budgets, setting goals for the future. This Management then develops the capacity to achieve its plan by organization and staffing, to create a corporate structure. The equivalent leadership activity is aligning people – communicating the new direction to those who can understand the vision and are committed to its achievement.
Finally, management ensures plan accomplishment by controlling and problem solving, monitoring results through observation, accounting procedures, reports, effective meetings and devising strategies to solve problems. But for leadership, achieving a vision requires motivating and inspiring, keeping people moving in synchronization despite major obstacles, by appealing to basic but often untapped human needs, values and emotions.
You must marry leadership skills with management skills. You must lead people into new territory with managerial ability as your compass and also essentially know who you are.
Maybe you think you are a lion; clever, strong, stealthy, ruthless when you have to be. You will face difficult decisions that involve not only money, contracts and progress, but also the livelihoods of others.
Maybe you are a gazelle; who is nimble and has the support of his peer group, who must always be alert and ready to run the race, whatever his state of well-being, whatever the terrain.
Once you know yourself, you must run.
About the author:
Raj Kamal Gupta, Vice President HR & Corporate Communication – Cedna Biotech (P) Ltd has rich and insightful experience of more than 27 years in Strategic HRM, facilitating Quality & Customer Orientation, Change Management, Business Process Reengineering and Industrial Relations assignments with well-known organizations. His experience spans Office Automation, Automotive Components, Telecom, IT, Pharma, FMCG, Hospitality, QSR, Service, Retail, Dairy, Health Care (Stem Cells) and Engineering. As a professional, he has been enjoying success in implementing new HR techniques as an effective Change Agent and a Valued contributor to key strategic initiatives right from conceptualization to facilitating implementation. He is well versed with modern HR Systems and organizational diagnosis and development interventions creating processes towards sharpening competitiveness, building skills, a proactive environment full of human competence and empowerment. He is an effective communicator with excellent relationship, management skills and strong analytical, problem solving and organizational abilities.
*The ideas expressed are the writer’s personal opinion and are not being made in any official capacity.