April 29, 2009

When to rule, when to lead, and when to watch

Jurgen Appelo recently wrote two very interesting articles that discussed different management styles. The first was entitled Leader vs. Ruler and the second Accountable or Responsible?. I think they are both interesting reads if you have the time. But to summarize, he seems to think that managers, by virtue of their role are naturally rulers, and rely to heavily on ruling. He also believes that it is more than their job to just lead, but also to "cultivate" leadership. The second article touches on the concept that rulers assign accountability whereas leaders inspire responsibility.

His posts are great, and all managers should take note if they didn't already understand his message. But managers manage people, and all people are different, and so is each situation or project. What seems to be missing for most managers to be truly effective is knowing when to rule, when to lead, and when to sit back and watch.

Jurgen is right, "It's the managers' job to make sure that leadership is cultivated, and that the emerging leaders are following the rules." It is also the managers' job to know and understand their employees, some need rules to follow, some need to be lead, and some just need a nudge in the right direction.

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