Leadership, Management and Feedback

 Sep 09, 2015

Whenever I ask participants in the various management and leadership courses I run, what is the difference between leadership and management, invariably people on the Team Leadership program will get these two confused. I’m not trying to suggest they are less intelligent than anyone else, just that they see the word ‘leader’ in ‘leadership’ and consider that term must apply to them. After all, the term ‘management’ must apply to those people above them that have the title ‘manager’.

Their contributions usually put forward that ‘leadership’ is done by those at the coal-face; ‘showing’ the way and motivating people. Management, on the other hand is delivering the goals that the Team Leaders must achieve. Whilst there is a bit of truth in their formulation, leadership does not only happen at the ‘coal-face’, it can happen anywhere in the organisation and the participants soon learn that they are people ‘managers’ despite the fact that they do not hold the title.

The word manage, comes from the Latin word ‘manus’ which means ‘hand’. So, people who manage are actually the ones who are ‘hands on’. Whilst the below is a simplification, there are basically four parts to management:

  • Planning
  • Resourcing
  • Leading
  • Monitoring and Adjusting

Virtually all Team Leaders in training agree that they do (or are quite involved in) all of those aspects of getting their team to deliver on its objectives. Even if goals and objectives are delivered from ‘on-high’, Team Leaders still have to plan ‘how’ they will reach their requirements.

It is often the monitoring and adjusting that is the problem for people managers; Team Leaders included. When people and performance stray from what is required, how do you bring them back? How do you keep them motivated? How do you have those difficult conversations?

If change is required, how do you keep people engaged and deal with their emotional reactions constructively?

Good Feedback is the key. It needs to be:

  • Specific: Feedback needs to be specific, not general. E.g. “The report you submitted was well-written, understandable, and your points about the budget were very effectively.” Don't say, “good report.”
  • Timely: The feedback should be delivered as soon as possible for maximum effectiveness.
  • Expressed Directly: The feedback should be delivered in a direct manner to the person whose behaviour needs to change.
  • Behaviour-Focused: Feedback should always focus on a specific behaviour, not on a person or their intentions. E.g. you held competing conversations during the meeting, when Mary had the floor; you distracted the people in attendance.
  • Actionable: The feedback has to be about something the person can change. Complaining that their left-handedness is causing a slowdown on the assembly line is not productive, because it is not realistic to expect the individual to be ambidextrous.
  • Helpful: Deliver the feedback in a manner that shows that you want to help the individual with this problem. Key attitudes include respectfulness, honesty, open-mindedness, and empathy.

Keeping these ideas in mind shows both, good leadership and good management.

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters’ degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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