Lead or Manage?

Lead Or Manage?

As parents we lead and manage our children. If we lead without adequate management skills, logistical problems arise. If we manage without providing clear leadership, we may travel a long road to nowhere.

Leadership focuses on developing people, empowerment, doing the right things, direction and principles. Management, on the other hand, concerns itself with taking care of things, control, doing things right, speed and practices.

If we are leading in the wrong direction, does it matter how well-managed the journey is? Conversely, when our leadership can’t manage to do things right, control outcomes and practices with a modicum of speed and sense of delivery, is our leadership effective?

Leading is an art. Managing is more about skills and organization.

Parenting is the delicate balance of knowing when to guide and when to supervise.

Paul was a time management guru and didn’t go anywhere or do anything without consulting his Daily Planner. For Paul, it came naturally to schedule time everyday to develop new skills. Fitness training was inked in from 5 to 6 a.m. everyday while Paul listened to tapes to learn French. Dinner was from 6 to 6:30 p.m. After dinner, every 15 minutes in the Daily Planner included activities for Paul to oversee with his children. Piano practice, reading books, yoga exercises, bath time, tooth brushing and prayers. Paul scheduled every minute of his day. Paul planned his wife’s activities. Paul’s children’s events were in the book. By golly, Paul said, in his family they got things done. The Daily Planner organized everything.

As Paul’s children began to enter into the independent stage of the older child, around age six years, small actions of rebellion and deception began to appear in the children’s behavior. Dawdling at the dinner table in order to miss piano practice. Going to get a drink of water in the kitchen when it was time to brush teeth. Hiding the reading books. The children’s passive acts of rebellion sabotaged Paul’s Daily Planner.

Paul made the mistake of managing his children when they needed his leadership for vision, moral direction and personal development. For Paul the balance of leadership and management tipped completely towards taking care of the schedule, controlling time and practices and being efficient.

When we become overly concerned with controlling things and people, instead of empowering others to manage and control themselves, we may find ourselves surrounded by indications of low trust. Some of these symptoms, but by no means all, are escapism, anger, fear, chaos, in-fighting, back-biting, hidden agendas, withholding of information, poor-me attitudes and people saying one thing and doing another.

To effectively manage we must lead. To lead we must effectively manage. So the dance begins.

Our job as parents and teachers is to have a clear direction on how we are going to help our children learn to lead and manage themselves, so later they may, in turn, lead and manage others.

Otherwise, we may end up in a place we never intended, using a map to obscurity but running right on time.

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4 Responses to “Lead or Manage?”

  1. Samantha Tan

    Love the topic this article, but wish there is some more information about “help our children learn to lead and manage themselves, so later they may, in turn, lead and manage others.”

    Thank you for the thought-provoking article.

  2. Mary Anderson

    I love this article in its clear succinct manner of differentiating between the two skills. A great leader must have both the vision and charisma to lead while the practical skills of managing people and things. Well stated.


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