TRADITIONALLY, management was focused on planning, organising and controlling with an emphasis on getting things done efficiently and effectively to meet the current requirements of customers, clients and stakeholders.

Modern managerial leadership, however, is specifically about tomorrow’s business and how an organisation must develop to meet the changing needs of its business, marketplace, customers and employees.

It also involves thinking proactively and acting effectively. This requires managers to communicate, consult and involve their people in the development of changes to ensure their understanding and commitment.

Modern managers need to focus more on leadership skills that enable them to establish and communicate vision and goals, and guide and empower others to accomplish them. Managerial leadership requires managers to take risks, think creatively and courageously, be decisive, and communicate the vision of where the organisation is going and how to get there.

Bridge the gap

Pioneer management theorist Mary Parker Follett defined management as “the art of getting things done through people”. A more modern definition would be “getting things done through other people in order to achieve stated organisational objectives”.

While management involves people working within a structured organisation with clearly defined roles and duties, leadership is often associated with the willing and enthusiastic behaviour of followers.

Leadership does not necessarily take place within the hierarchical structure of the organisation and may be seen primarily as an inspirational process. It revolves around character and personal qualities than technical capabilities.

These qualities are harder to define, and different leaders have different styles though it is possible to see common threads that weave a distinctive leadership pattern. 

Managerial leadership seeks to bridge the gap between management and leadership, with the emphasis on influence and not authority, as pointed out by leadership expert Kenneth Blanchard. Leaders should move from planning and budgeting, organising and staffing, controlling and problem-solving, to establishing direction, aligning people, and motivating and inspiring them.

As the 7-S-Model explains, managerial leadership is still focused on the “hard” S’s of strategy, structure and systems, but embraces the soft S’s of shared values, concern for style, staff and skills. 

Show them you care

Good managerial leadership starts with the premise that people are important, and management genuinely cares about their people. Staff are trusted, respected and shown appreciation. Positive feedback is given and achievement recognised and rewarded.

It is interesting to compare different business cultures. It seems to me that an American manager instinctively gives recognition and praise frequently by saying “Thank you”, “Well done”, “Great job” and so on. The Singaporean style seems more muted. The philosophy seems to be: “Yes, you have done a good job, but that’s what I pay you to do; if you are not doing well you will soon hear from me.”

Good managerial leaders have clarity of vision and the ability to share that with their staff. They communicate with their staff and are prepared to listen and reflect on what they are told. They demonstrate confidence and trust in their teams by empowering and delegating responsibilities. They are committed to developing people and actively promote coaching and mentoring within their organisations. They motivate and inspire members of staff by encouraging creativity and innovation.

Most important of all, they create a work environment that people want to join. As Mr Bill Gates stated: “When I was building Microsoft, I set out to create an environment where software developers could thrive. I wanted a company where engineers liked to work. I wanted to create a culture that encouraged them to work together, share ideas and remain motivated.”

Good managerial leadership creates an enlightened working culture where people grow and develop and give of their best.