Yesterday, I attended Microsoft UK’s semi-annual Manager Forum where all of the team and group managers get together for training, networking and various business updates. The centrepiece of the day was a session of ‘Top 10 Tips for Manager’ by Larry Shulman of TSO Consulting. He made one nod in particular to the balancing of upside and downside, leadership and management, describing the challenge as “The way we get ahead with all of the necessary policies and rules [management] while exploiting that artistic creativity [leadership]”

Larry covered a range of well presented prescriptions (eg. Enter the Fundamental State of Leadership. Ask them how they want to be managed. Gain respect by giving it. Be clear. Etc.) one of which included the Marcus Buckingham observation that “People join companies but leave managers.”

That simple statement got me thinking about the Leader-Manager distinction. Would it work to say that ‘People join Leaders, but leave Managers’? Or perhaps more clearly put, ‘People join great Leadership, but leave bad Management.’ The premise is consistent with one of the standard requirements for Leadership is ability to ‘bring people along with them,’ in other words, getting them to ‘join’.

I thought of my own experience joining Microsoft. I was definitely inspired by the leadership of Bill Gates in general, and Dave Cutler in particular with his vision for NT (I was a Mac user, Unix developer and the office was connected by Netware…the notion of an easy-to-use application-cum-networking server was a brilliant). That said, I did really hit it off with Simon Witts, my hiring manager who I thought would be great to work with. But it was probably the Leadership of Microsoft that really inspired me taking the Microsoft offer over others.