Thanksgiving and Leadership: It’s All About Relationships

No, this is not my annual Thanksgiving blog.  In fact, I haven’t ever written a Thanksgiving blog before.  One thing that has surfaced numerous times for me over the last few months goes back to the research on the different between management and leadership.  One of the very simple definitions for this difference is that “tasks” or things are managed, while “relationships” or people require leadership.  Another thing that strikes me about this difference is that task or process management can be honed to a skill-level that is remarkable in its ability to be replicated.  Once a task is developed that truly works well, just follow the step-by-step guidance and the thing will practically manage itself.  That is why detailed policies and procedures can be a good substitute for managers.  A bureaucratic, organization with sound policies and specific procedures can eliminate middle managers by automating control systems to ensure policies and procedures work 90% of the time.  The remaining 10% of the problems usually come down to human errors or failure to follow the process.

Leadership is different.  It is all about encouraging, motivating, developing and guiding people.  Leadership is about building the relationships and the capabilities of people to go beyond the policies and procedures when necessary to truly innovate and take a product or service, company or industry to a new level.  Yes, that means sometimes failing, and sometimes flailing, and sometimes sailing, and sometimes soaring to new heights.  Thanksgiving is also all about relationships.  It is about bringing people together sometimes following generations-old traditions, and sometimes adapting to add something new and creative to the mix.  Both management and leadership are important in business – and knowing when to step outside the boundaries of management in order to lead is key to whether or not the change will lead to failing or flailing.  This Thanksgiving my family will be stepping outside our usual traditions, and yet not giving up the traditions entirely.  It will be a mixture of managing and leading.  I think we will have a marvelous holiday.