Management is not Leadership

Day 277 Week 40 Q4 Thursday, October 5, 2023

Okay, creative outliers, let us assume you have managed to create MeaningPlace to the extent that you have gotten traction and your ideas are manifesting nicely. Sooner or later, you will have things and people to manage to get everything you want done. This is called leverage, and yes you have to stop creating and making stuff and begin to deal with people. This is both rewarding and messy. It is messier to deal with people’s feelings than a blank sheet of paper or an empty track on a Digital Audio Workstation.  

Many an excellent engineer has been promoted to manager and failed. Managing code, circuitry or design is not the same as managing people. People have needs. You may argue that your book, opera or new project also has needs. This is true, but they do not get upset when their needs are not nearly as much as people do. People have the right to ask What’s in it for me? They may not ask it out loud or even consciously. It may be asked by others in their lives wondering why their sweetie, child, or uncle is investing so much energy in this direction. 

Leadership is far more inspiring than management. Do the troops follow a manager into battle? Oh, you think you are just going into a recording session, not a battle? Not true. You are going into battle against entropy, distractions, negative feedback, doubt and disorder. Sometimes, people do things just because they are told or told and paid, but often, the highest quality people need something more than that.  

Founders need to feed people psychically with vision, justification and acknowledgment. People need to be seen. And sending out an email blast may be more efficient than personal communication, but which one do you think is more compelling to you personally?

Leaders help someone get somewhere they can not get to by themselves. And it has to be somewhere they want to go. If you find yourself managing, it is well worth answering the question, how can I make this more worthwhile for those you manage? You have a responsibility to respect the people helping you, not just tell them what to do.  Excellent people often do not want to be told what to do unless you are paying them very well, and even then, the truly excellent people usually need more motivation than money. They need to be seen, respected and acknowledged. 

If you are the kind of person who steals other people’s ideas or treats them poorly in other ways, you will be left with a group of bottom feeders, not a powerful, self-organizing, talented team. Do not make everything all about you. Make the situation be about them. Lead people to places they want to get to. They may have wanted to get there before they ever met you. Or they may hear something you said and tell themselves, I want to go there. Either way, get them somewhere further than where they already are.

Don’t just manage. Lead!