In the “real world” organizations are moving from the pursuit of accomplished managers and maverick leaders to the pursuit of specific managerial skills and specific leadership competencies. The distinction between management and leadership becomes highly academic especially for managers who lead complex and / or big businesses. Take the example of Store Managers for Big Box retailers such as Home Depot, Target, Sears, Walmart, or any other department store managers. They manage between $20 million to over $100 million businesses with 200 employees to over 400 employees. While their primary job is to execute company’s direction i.e. highly managerial functions, they must be creative, inspirational, and visionary to overcome challenges and achieve success i.e. highly leadership functions.
Any task in any business requires a “doer”. To ensure that the task is done according to company’s direction and maximum productivity organizations assign “supervisors”. To ensure that supervisors are delivering all tasks in a timely manner to satisfy customers’ demands and coordinate between different supervisors and processes, companies hire managers. Finally, to ensure that organizations are successful, they hire leaders including CEOs. Managing tasks' and doers productively is the main function of frontline supervisors. Managing processes and supervisors effectively and efficiently is the main function of managers. Successfully building on the past while leading the present and positioning the business for the future is the main function of leaders.
There is no dispute that large organizations need leaders. The real question is who should do what within an organization. Since resources are limited, individuals need to spend their time within their assigned roles to deliver specific results. “Tasking” and “leading” are different competencies and necessitates that roles are designed taking the distinction between tasking, supervising, managing, and leading into consideration.
Numerous personality profiles have been designed to help organizations find the “right” trait for the “right” task or role. Fundamentally, the applications of “profiling” often miss the goal because success and failure, in management, is a holistic and complex phenomena not a simple cause and effect harmony.
Consequently, a primary function of business executives should encompass arranging tasks within processes that deliver products and services to meet or exceed customers’ expectations. Once the processes are established, it is much easier to assign tasks and different supervisory, managerial, and leadership roles. This could have vast implications for organizations, employees, and most importantly customers.