Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era factory probably didn’t have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job got done as ordered. The focus was on efficiency.
But in the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where staff are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize staff, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.
The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognize this truth, as he was to recognize so many other management truths. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the way business was organized.
With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” Drucker wrote. “The task is to 'lead' people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”
This does does not mean that learning 'management' should be abandoned and everybody should focus on 'leadership'. Planning, organizing, directing and monitoring are still required skills if an enterprise is to be successful. It mean that there is a need to acquire a wider portfolio of skills and to develop the ability to choose different ways of operating.