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462535905“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker got this right. What he didn’t say, and this is an extremely important corollary, is that management and leadership co-exists in the same people!

Building a talented workforce with the right mix of leadership and management is one of the biggest challenges Human Resource departments face. How can you hire, train and retain a productive workforce with effective managers – ones who build your organization up rather than hold it back? 

Balancing Leadership and Managerial Skills

Leadership and management are two closely related, but different concepts.

Leadership is the manager’s ability to guide the team and create synergy by coordinating and directing their efforts in order to produce the best output from each employee and add value to the organization as a whole. A leader is willing to be held accountable for the team’s successes and failures because they understand their accountability for the departmental resources entrusted to them: the people, budget, equipment, and so on, to contribute to the organizational goals; a leader is accountable for the way others work, their productivity and even their work experience.

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Conversely, management is a more hands-on concept pertaining to the effective planning, coordinating and organizing of these resources.

Every individual in an organization who is in a role that is accountable for the output of others – that is, managers, from CEOs and VPs to Directors and front-line managers – need to have the right balance of leadership skills and managerial skills; the two are not mutually exclusive. Certainly, the mix changes. The CEO will rely more on leadership skills for success; the front-line manager will rely more on managerial skills. But the CEO must also manage. And the front-line manager must also lead.

The Challenge for HR

Because leadership and management skills have such a great effect on the output and engagement of others – and therefore the business at a whole – this poses a great challenge to HR departments in determining the appropriate mix of capabilities to that will best benefit the organization.

To this end, HR should institute a process that maps out the leadership and managerial skills that are required for success in each role in the organization. It is important for each role, amongst all of the other things that position descriptions, to document that unique mix.

As part of the ongoing talent management system, managers should map out the core strengths, skills, and gaps for each team member in comparison to their role and accountabilities, and document these in development plans. From there, HR can support managers by obtaining and coordinating training or other development activities that support those specific areas with training and professional development programs.

One mistake HR personnel make when planning professional development for management staff is to attack “trendy” issues with the latest programs that are currently in the spotlight. While these programs may be worthwhile, it’s far more beneficial to the individual to choose job-specific courses that are tailored to the individual’s needs.

Many people conflate the term “manager” with “leader” – the two are independent ideas. Ideally, all managers would possess leadership skills; but if HR staff can pinpoint specific places where managers in their organization can improve, they can create concerted, targeted training programs to enhance their managers’ leadership skills – with the added bonus of enhancing employee engagement and organizational output.