From Management to Leadership

Often, I find myself thinking about the differences between leadership and management. As a programmer, I have an unique perspective this topic since my job deals chiefly in an abstract world. All day, everyday, I think about made up things. I name things. I find the subtly between ideas. I organize complex information. I analyze and contrast perspectives. Moreover, software is notoriously hard to manage. Between unmet deadlines and the fact that it’s knowledge work rather than physical work makes for loads confusion. I’ve been running a small consultancy for four years and writing software for eighteen. All of this, I think, gives me confidence in my perspective.

Before we can talk about the properties of leadership and management we should start by defining them. We can always change our view of these terms but it’s useful to start with a shared understanding.

Management — the act of taking orders (from leaders, peers, and subordinates) and harmonizing them with real-world constraints so that we may move forward together.

Leadership — the act of giving orders in the form of values then practices which lead to expectations and finally enforcement.

Any organization that seeks to be excellent at anything will have a strong vision of their values. They will enforcement them. They will teach them. They will make their decisions based on them. These are not mere words and wishful thinking, no, these are real. They are humans bringing to the pass their vision of the world.

That’s what we all need: vision. A vision for our life. A vision for our work. A vision for our relationships. It’s needed everywhere which is why it’s of the utmost importance to get in the drivers seat.

Let’s get practical — a step by step guide

Your Mission (trademark you)

The end result should be a blueprint for why and how you do X. You can take it anywhere with you. If you work in software like me, you can take it to your next job. You can share it. You can discuss it. It should be a real thing. A system to live by. I’m unsure if there is a more important thing you can do in terms of making an impact.

People can follow a mission. People can live with expectations. What people cannot handle are the ever changing expectations. People cannot respect a leader with no spine. People want to be inspired. People want to be lead. Who wants the burden of leading everything? We have each other for that. Support the people in your life by being a great leader. That starts with knowing what you believe and actually doing it.

Think with insight. Act with compassion. Lead with courage.

Part time mad computer scientist, full time lover of the extraordinary.

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