Continuous Improvement; a management or leadership competency?

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

For many people, obtaining a Degree in business administration has been an important factor in what they’ve achieved in their career.  However most of the MBA curriculum teaches people how to be managers, not how to be leaders.  There IS a difference… and herein lies a challenge; all continuous improvement efforts require leaders, not managers.

What’s the difference you ask?  Well Managers are taught how to manage things; budgets, projects, operational plans, new product or service development.  A leader is that rare breed who knows how to work with a team of people to achieve awesome outcomes, often requiring people to make changes, shift their paradigm and do things differently and outside of their comfort zone.

Think about an AFL team and the person who coaches them.  Is Alistair Clarkson a manager or a leader?  Is “Bomber” Thompson a manager or a leader?  Is John Longmire a manager or a leader?  Sure… they have managers who manage things like the marketing, player list, training equipment, uniforms, schedules etc.  They have trainers who take care of player’s well being, addressing minor injuries and so on.  But the people we hear most about in these teams are the coaches; their expertise is leadership, not management.  They are leaders of the team, and it’s up them to provide and get buy in to the game plan and team rules, understand the strengths and weaknesses of each player and motivate them and the team to make changes, improve and to accomplish things many can’t imagine as being possible to accomplish.

Leaders are experts at working with people, not things.  Think of management as being the efficient and effective us of things and leadership as the ability to get extraordinary results from individuals and teams.

Continuous improvement is a core leadership competency; how competent are you?