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More leaders vs. managers [part ii of iv]
By Tracy E. Barnhart
Published: 03/02/2009

Tracy Barnhart is a Marine combat veteran of Desert Storm / Desert Shield. In 2000, he joined the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the Marion Juvenile Corrections Facility, a maximum security male correctional facility housing more than 320 offenders. Barnhart works with 16 to 21-year-old, male offenders with violent criminal convictions and aggressive natures. In his monthly column, he discusses everyday issues affecting corrections professionals.

Editor’s note: In part one last week, regular columnist Tracy Barnhart wrote about the qualities required for effective leaders. This week he continues with this four-part series about leadership with further exploration of what leaders must be and do.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing.

While management focuses on efficiency -- how to best accomplish a certain task, leadership focuses on effectiveness -- what tasks should be accomplished. The distinction is vital, for there is no right way to do a wrong thing.

Remember, a manager says, “Go”, and a leader says, “Let’s go.” If you want to be a leader, you must continuously challenge yourself, your fellow employees and management as to whether the "right thing" is being done, by asking: "Are we showing the right way, the right direction, and the right vision?" "Are we doing the right thing in relation to furthering our mission, our purpose, our reason for existence, the service we provide?"

We must continuously ask, "Are we doing the right thing in relation to the values, the guides for appropriate and inappropriate behavior and then setting the example for that behavior?"

We are convinced that law enforcement and correctional agencies succeed or fail, compete or crumble, on the basis of how well they are led. So, we study great leaders of the past and present. We then spend vast quantities of time and money looking for leaders to hire, and try to cultivate leadership in the employees we already have.

In 1970, Peter Drucker, one of the most influential minds on the issues of leadership in this half century, was asked to complete a case study of the Los Angeles Police Department. Drucker spent some six weeks with members of the department and reported a number of findings. One of the most perceptive was the observation of the police department itself.

Drucker stated: “Your employees are so concerned with doing things right, that they are failing to do the right things.”

Managers do things right and leaders do the right things. This, in turn, will allow your employees to excel. This is often where you hear officers make the comment about a newly promoted leader that, “He has forgotten where he came from.”

I have no argument with this enthusiasm. Leaders matter greatly. But in searching zealously for better leaders we tend to lose sight of the people these leaders will lead. Without his armies, after all, Napoleon would be just another man with grandiose ambitions.

Organizations stand or fall partly on how well their leaders lead, but partly also on how well their followers follow. Leadership is about coping with change. Leading an organization to constructive change begins by setting a direction—developing a vision of the future (often the distant future) along with strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve that vision.

Teacher and scholar—the relationship between leaders and troops should in no sense be that of superior and inferior or that of master and servant, but rather that of teacher and scholar. In fact, it should be similar to the relationship between father and son, to the extent that officers, especially commanding officers, are responsible for the physical, mental, and moral welfare, as well as the discipline and law enforcement training of the young men and women under their command who are serving the nation in a law enforcement or corrections capacity.

I know it seems that I am putting down managers in this article, but I am not. I want to distinguish the two styles. You have to know when to manage, and when to lead, and know how to distinguish between them both.

I now enjoy the pleasure of playing the critic instead of the criticized as far as leadership goes. I often make personal comments to supervisors about their styles and habits, sometimes well received and sometimes shunned.

I should note that bad leadership can be defined either as immoral or ineffective. Sometimes these two go together and sometimes they do not.

Thus, there are times when the pitfalls are pitfalls of character. Then there are those occasions that are difficult for leaders to deal with because of circumstances that arise such as followers who for one reason or another refuse to go along. In short, the pitfalls vary from situation to situation. Sometimes they relate to the person and sometimes they relate to the circumstances.

In part three, next week Barnhart continues to discuss different leadership styles

Other articles by Barnhart:

Leaders vs. managers [part i of iv]
How to tick people off


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