In response to an article in The Economist about the need for middle managers, Michele Zanini writes:
Just because the ladder has fewer rungs doesn’t mean leadership opportunities are scarce-quite the opposite. By giving people the ability to gain influence (and compensation) based on accomplishment as opposed to advancement, an organization ends up with more, not fewer leaders. And these leaders don’t have to devote their talents and energy to politicking or sabotaging each other in zero-sum promotion battles.
The accomplishment-advancement distinction is worth exploring, but I don’t share Michele’s conclusion: the organization will likely end up with more spirit of initiative, not necessarily more “leaders”.
Highlighting content from my September 2021 newsletter.
Managing is getting something done, stabilizing existing processes, controlling and correcting deviations to ensure quality and reliability.
Leadership is about doing something new or better, whether a simple process improvement or a transformation. It is more about reframing for improvement. It likely calls upon people to learn new skills and shift beliefs.
Our tendency to ascribe leadership to individuals that hold a formal entitlement as head of a team, group, or function is unhelpful when distinguishing management from leadership as activities with different purposes.
Leadership is not the property of a formal position, but rather an activity that occurs anywhere in the company. A person responsible for such a change is therefore in a leadership role irrespective of title.
source: “Culture shift with Ed and Peter Schein” in Dialogue. Also a Twitter thread.