Leadership VS Management: A Positive Shift

Think back to a time when you had no power, nor autonomy, in your work…yeah, that wasn’t a fun job, was it?

In a typical small business, there are many different tasks that require immediate attention and responsibility. When you’re a team of five to six people, juggling operations, marketing, finances, and sales is almost overwhelming daily. Even extrapolated to a large business, each department struggles with multiple tasks, autonomy, and ownership. This is where teamwork and leadership at a personal level becomes key – it is critical to step back and review the core goals of the business. A very powerful way to do that is to ask the bigger question: “Why are we doing this?” Ponder that for a moment, while I tell you how we got there.

At Gauge Interactive, we utilize a methodology called “Leader-Leader” (a concept from L. David Marquet’s book, “Turn the Ship Around”), in which we turn over autonomy, creativity, and decision-making to every person in the company. This methodology flows like a river from the top of the mountain range (company owners) all the way down to the river delta (developers, project managers, sales, accountants, and human resources).  The key word of “Leader-Leader” is obviously Leader, but what does that really mean for your business, how much control are you giving away, and how would you implement this type of structure within your company?

The first step is to define the dynamic relationship between leadership and management.   Businesses use the word management for everything: task management, time management, project management, code management, resource management. However “management” is a large misnomer that instantly creates the wrong dynamic within your organization, and implies that people are not fully capable of making decisions without a “manager.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Truthfully, no one likes being micro-managed. People enjoy making decisions that utilize their skills, and that contribute to the success of their team and company. In fact, the fastest way to keep your employees happy is to ask them to provide insight on meaningful, powerful, work.  To do that, focus on accountability and ownership over menial daily tasks or end results.

How do we do that at Gauge Interactive?

Instead of considering time-tracking a chore, the outcome becomes our personal responsibility. We understand the end goal; “I’m going to make sure my time is properly tracked because I know how it is used by the billing department, and how the client will interpret the results.”
In my role, instead of considering my job “Project Management” with a group of individual requirements and tasks, I view a project as an opportunity to review the processes we currently use, and improve those processes to better meet the need of our retailers.

By communicating the concept of individual leadership instead of the old management model, you can instill a culture that considers a challenge as a chance to grow, instead of dropping their chin in failure. Communication changes from “What?” and “How?” to “Why?”  By asking “Why,” you essentially challenge the status quo, and if you answer “why” correctly, the “what” and “how” of that particular task will come forward with minimal effort.

Another example of this methodology is in how we use Basecamp. Basecamp is software that boasts easy client and project management. However, Basecamp is simply a tool. The “Why” of that tool is that we want a centralized place for communication to better serve our retailers’ needs.  We cut down on ambiguity of tasks, assign ownership to actionables, and maintain on-going conversations with our clients. In this example, the “What” is Basecamp, and the “How” is creating new projects, tasks lists, and to-dos within the service, but without the “Why,” execution would not be focused, and the contents may fall short of our needs.

To distinguish between Leadership and Management, I will illustrate differences in perception:

Working StyleProactive. Think ahead to provide solutions before they are a problem.Reactive
VisionLong-term. Ask: what are three things you can do today to pay dividends in 3 months, or 3 years?Short-term
Project TypeGoal-based. Refer back to the “Why”. If you are solving the wrong problem, no one wins.Task based
DecisionsFacilitates them.  Allow everyone to contribute, to grow your culture one conversation at a time.Makes them
TeamworkTrusts team in process. Everyone’s experience is better than one person’s experience.Micro-manages
Concerned withDoes what is right.  If it adds value, use it; if it doesn’t, discard it. Simple as that.Being right
ConflictUses conflict for positives. Growth comes from mistakes; use conflict to pinpoint an issue and address it moving forward. No one is perfect.Avoids them

With the differences in leadership vs. management shown, it’s clear we should all aspire to leadership positions, because that is how our customers respond best to us. Being an authority in your industry, no matter your position, provides the best outcomes, both to our wonderful clients here at Gauge, and to your ideal clients flocking to your web storefront. To realize that opportunity, you must empower your team, and stress leadership at all levels. The results will create a stronger culture, develop employees who are happier with their meaningful work, and your customers will ultimately recognize the value of greater service and your higher quality products. Everyone wins. Just the way we like it.

To continue the conversation email [email protected]

Mike Cristancho
Project Manager
Magento Certified Solutions Specialist

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