Imagine you’re a part of a filming team and you want to do a movie shot deep in the Amazonian rainforest. You need a specific waterfall shot under the moonlight which occurs only once every 4 years. So you recruit the best directors, field operatives, foot guides (for the jungle marsh), producers and more. Everything that you need to go through the jungle and shoot the movie.
These guys go through the jungle effectively. They cut down all the trees and marsh on the way, prepare food, water, and medicine. They are fast, create the right path and move through the jungle under all the rules and regulations. That is what they were trained for and they conquer the jungle.
The team and you come to the right spot to shoot the scene with the waterfall but it isn’t there. And just then, you hear the guy from the top of a tree yelling at you for the past 3 days “Wrong jungle!”
Efficient and Effective. What does it have to do with leadership and management?
The 2 intersecting fields, often confused and misdefined, have been the cornerstone of today’s economy and entrepreneurship. For years, it was all about management but then leadership kicked in. Everyone started praising Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jack Ma for their vision, implying that is was all about leadership. But management and leadership are just different sides of the same coin.
Management is all about playing the field and being the most efficient you can be. This is where you ask the bottom-line question “How can I best accomplish certain things?” And you need this if you want to succeed. But with no direction, even the most efficient teams will fail like we have seen with the filming crew.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell
This is where leadership comes into the play. Leadership is all about seeing the bigger picture and having a holistic approach to the matter. As a leader, you decide which is the right jungle to fight in. You see which is the right jungle for your guys and decide on the direction your team is heading for.
Leadership is all about being effective (doing the right things). This is where you ask the top-line question “What are the things I want to accomplish?” But even the best leaders, the biggest visionaries are worthless without the right team on the field which creates a reality from that vision. You need both management (doing things right) and leadership (doing the right things).
But people often go into extremes of one and ignore the other which leads to a catastrophe (Enron, Blockbuster, Polaroid etc.). So let’s see what that looks like and how, if you find yourself in that position, you can fix it.
The Lone Visionary
We see this quite often, especially in today’s world where the disruption of big companies by “garage“ companies and one-man shows is a rule instead of a mere coincidence. Lone visionaries have the idea. They see the world not as it is, but as it can be. They have big ideas where some of those can disrupt the industries, turning them upside down and with it, the world.
But the problem with lone visionaries is in the first word, they are (a)lone. A mere vision, or knowing which jungle is worth taking on, is only half of the equation. Without the right team on the field and proper management, the vision will remain just that, a vision.
Convincing other people that your vision is possible, that it will change the world and that people will never look at that the same, is what differentiates the lone visionaries from the best leaders in the world.
“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?“, is what Steve Jobs asked the CEO of PepsiCo, John Sculley at their meeting. And that sentence became the reason why Sculley went from a secure and highly paid position at Pepsico, into joining a bunch of young computer nerds on the West coast. Your biggest weapon is your vision. Convince people in that and it will attract people who can put that vision into reality.
The Directionless Juggernaut
These are the perfect managers and workers. They have the skills, knowledge, and attitude which they crafted for years and years. The best managers, problem-solvers, and people who turn visions into realities.
They are the people who know how to cut their way through the jungle because they focus on the trees and marsh, not the entire jungle. But more often than not, this focus makes them end up in the wrong jungle.
Without a holistic approach or a vision, this team becomes the Directionless Juggernaut. It can be a powerful force with the right vision and direction, but without that sense of direction, it becomes the worst nightmare.
The way you handle this is not by doubling down on efficiency (more management), but by inserting some effectiveness (leadership) into it. Invest in creating the vision or find someone who already has a vision and let that serve as a True North.
The Perfect Team
When vision meets delivery or better yet, when management meets leadership, that’s where we have a disruption of industries and eventually of the world. Steve Jobs or Elon Musk didn’t create stuff alone, they had their teams which created a reality out of their visions. In today’s world, it’s crucial to have both.