3 sure ways to know if you’re in a ‘Leadership’ or a ‘Management’ Team

Everyone has their favoured definitions of leadership teams (strategic, vision, direction, resource allocation, seniority etc.) and management teams (tactical, implementation, process driven, getting things done, middle to ground floor etc.).

All teams have elements of both aspects, of course, just as all roles, however senior or junior, have elements of both.  But seniority is not the main discriminator between leadership and management teams …

The difference resides not necessarily in the organisational level of the team, although that may be a factor in the external title/designation purposes. The difference is in the internal, group attitude of the team and the internal interpersonal, behavioural systems through which the team runs. For instance:

1. When there is a problem, a ’team that manages’ says “They should …”, “What they/someone needs to do is …”; the ’team that leads’ says “We will …”, ‘What do we need to do …?”

2. The leadership team has no rigid internal hierarchy – it has a clear and agreed purpose, and any member of the team can step in to keep it on purpose if it drifts off. In a management team, there is inhibition based on perceived (organisational) and intrinsic (emotional and psychological default) hierarchy and on a need to do things through a certain ‘process’.

3. The leadership team initiates active steps to remove any blocks or interferences it identifies as getting in the way of efficient progress. The management team members can hide behind these blocks / interferences to some extent to avoid having to do something about them ( “They should …).

In these ways, the difference can be seen to reside in the levels of ownership, accountability, initiative, creativity, unity of purpose and action, and active vulnerability manifest at the level of the team as a whole and by the individual members in the context of the team and its role.

For the management team there is always a “They …”

For the leadership team, there is only “We ..”

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