Leaders in London is not just a conference on leadership, but probably one of the premier conferences in the UK. The Speaker content and quality is on par with Davos and TED. This year was my 4th year at the event and it continued its track record of outstanding presentations. While so much was covered, I’ll focus, as you would expect, on some of the comments made looking at the interplay of Leadership and Management.
Benjamin Zander struck up the pundit band with his characteristic zest noting “Leaders imagine new possibilities…The secret of life is that it is all invented. My job is to awaken possibilities in others.”
Host Rene Carayol made a colourful distinction between Leaders and Managers: “Manager tell abstractions; Leaders tell stories” I’ll definitely have to add this to my list (#15). The Microsoft UK management team has long joked about the analogy crafters and the storytellers in the group.
Marcus Buckingham has built his career on the focus on strengths (upside), but he did note at one point the balance between upside and down: “Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.” This could be paraphrased, ‘Lead with strengths, Manage weaknesses.’
Alan Leighton (who might just be my candidate for the UK executive best embodies a balance between Leader and Manager personas from my modest exposure to him) noted, “The Will is easy. The Rhythm is more difficult.” His comments in this area inspired my 16th distinction: “Leaders create the Will, Managers maintain the Rhythm.”
Michael Porter was also explicit in his views on the distinctions: “The manager focuses on operational effectiveness – running the same race faster; The leader focuses on strategy – choosing which race to run. Doing both at the same time is extremely difficult.”