Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Managing versus Leading: Innovation vs. Process and Resources

" . . . .leadership always involves a relationship as contrasted with management which has to do with processes and systems . . ."

This quote is from Michael Maccoby who I found on this blog - I have really been intrigued by this simple truth and the fact that our educational systems are full of managers who need to become leaders. There is a distinct challenge in the 21st century economy to promote innovation and creativity - both of which cannot necessarily be measured. The industrial age focused on managing resources and measuring results - and if you couldn't measure it, there were no results. While there are many great leaders of the industrial age, the primary skill set was the ability to manage people and resources. Productivity was measured by the quantity of results and the quality of the product. This industrial paradigm still is pervasive in our educational system structure. We are focused on measuring "tangible" outcomes, managing resources (people, time, materials, budgets) and maintaining traditions that are ineffective and do not allow for innovation and creativity to be fostered.

Leadership is all about relationships. Leadership fosters innovation and creativity at all levels. Just take a look at the key attributes of an effective leader from Jim Murray. As education professionals are we leading innovation or managing resources? or are we doing both? I won't say it's an "either/or" situation but a "both/and" situation. Unfortunately, I strongly feel the balance is skewed in the direction of "management" vs. "leadership". We should be promoting and training Principals as Leaders, Teachers as Leaders, Students as Leaders, etc. and the professional development should focus on the skill set of the 21st century leader.

Think about the "classroom management" training many of us have been through. There is a strong focus on "management" techniques vs. the empowerment of critical thinkers who foster innovation and creativity. Teachers are having to break the mold and jump outside of the box of process and procedure in order to affect students' learning and make them enjoy the learning experience. I love this quote from Professor Maccoby:

" . . .this(meaning successful outcomes) can't be achieved by management (tactics) alone at a time of constant change when people need inspiration, a sense of purpose and enthusiasm to achieve their goals."

Take a look at these 2 links regarding the differences b/w managers and leaders.



I would also suggest reading Bob Sutton's blog on Leadership Vs. Management. He draws a very accurate picture of the "both/and" approach to this topic. My point in all of this is that you can't focus on managing resources vs. leading innovation. The workplace has quickly become an agile, ever-changing, and continuously improving ecosystem while education has struggled just to keep up. Why? I feel it is because we are still steeped in traditional industrial "management" practices of command/control/produce/measure vs. fostering the innovation and creativity in our schools.

If you are on Twitter, follow @donnapeters51, she is Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools and is also the NC Superintendent of the Year. She is a leader who focuses on leading innovation while building the "management" piece in with leadership teams around her. So, are you leading innovation or managing resources? or both?

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