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Managers and Leaders

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Inter-twined nature of Management and Leadership

Any management textbook will give the definition of modern management as “a set of activities,including planning and decision making, organizing, leading and controlling directed at an organization’s human, financial, physical and information resources, with the aim of achieving organizational goals in an efficient and effective manner.” In essence, it is all about achieving goals, which was the case in ancient times as well.

In a crude sense, management can be broken into three parts, man, age and ment. It essentially speaks about people, times and actions. As veteran management thinker Henry Mintzberg often advocates that successful management involves interpersonal, informational and decisional roles.

Any organizations can be viewed as a system, comprising inputs, through puts and outputs. Hence, management can also be defined as human action, including design, to facilitate the production of useful outcomes from a system. This view opens the opportunity to ‘manage’ oneself, a per-requisite to attempting to manage others.

Leadership is a much talked topic in both private as well as public circles. Perhaps the only ship that survives a storm is leadership. It is not about positions and titles, but about decisions and actions. Leadership is essentially a mindset. We look at the leaders at the top but not the “leaders at the tap”. Dynamics of leadership highlights the leaders and laggards in the society showcasing actions and in actions.

Management essentially is a process. Leadership in fact is a phenomenon. Management has four key pillars, namely planning, organizing, leading and controlling. The pillar or function of leading that involves guiding a team and instructing them to achieve set goals is the overlap between management and leadership.

Every manager has an opportunity to move beyond the management process in becoming a leader. Every leader has to rely on some elements of management in order to get things done. That’s why we need both managers and leaders in co-existence. Evidences are many, from east and west alike to see this nexus.

In the five hundred and fifty Jathaka stories, Bodhisattva is portrayed as a leader and a manager in a significant number of cases. Using of physical, human, financial and information resources to achieve the desired goals was the norm.

In Vannu-Patha Jathaka, it tells a story of thousands of bullock-carts passing a dessert and going out of water. The leader had to summon the key team in finding solutions to the water issue. They search area and find a rock and simply by keeping their ears closer to the rock surface, they could hear water flowing down. They plan and organize resources to dig a well closeby and water started to spring out, quenching all their thirst. Simply put, this is management in action.

In the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, we can see variety of stories highlighting managerial and leadership issues. The way Moses took Israel people out of Egypt in search of a promise land had variety of episodes of planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Taking decisions in the face of uncertainty and managing with scarce resources were prominent features of their journey of forty years.

Let us reflect, refresh and relate the true depth and breadth of leadership.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022 – 01:00

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