Are you more of a leader or a manager? In reality, anyone who is responsible for getting things done in organizations must employ both leadership and management tasks in order to maintain effectiveness.

Are you more of a leader or a manager? In reality, anyone who is responsible for getting things done in organizations must employ both leadership and management tasks in order to maintain effectiveness.

Very few roles allow someone the luxury to operate solely as a leader or manager. Most roles require that a person both lead and manage in order to achieve results, and especially in order to yield high impact. Leadership tasks primarily involve handling inputs to the organization while management tasks primarily affect outputs. Most roles deal with both inputs and outputs.

In this article, I identify three essential tasks of leadership. In my next column, I will highlight the same three tasks, but I will approach each task from a management perspective rather than a leadership perspective. The three tasks require processing the dos, don’ts and differences in an organization.

Every leader must come to grips with the “dos” of the organization. While this statement seems obvious, just pause to consider how many times you have been a part of an organization that contained too little direction coupled with a diminutive destiny.

Every organization needs a dream. Its members crave to know what to do and why they should be doing it. There are many ways of establishing an organization’s future, but one of the most popular and most effective today is to define the values, mission and vision of the organization.

To define those terms, values relate to those qualities that consistently pull the organization toward them. Cooperation, fairness, perseverance and tradition are examples of values that organizations may hold.

Mission relates to the raison d’etre of the organization. An organization’s mission defines why the organization exists and describes its main purpose.

While the discovery of an organization’s values and mission can be extremely beneficial, perhaps the most powerful tool of the three involves the development of the organization’s vision. A vision portrays a short-term image of what the organization could become. Powerful visions have a way of pulling the leaders and participants of the organization toward them.

The role of a leader is to guide the development of the values, mission and vision of the organization or the particular part of the organization that you lead. The leader may choose to directly facilitate the processes or may choose to enlist the help of a consultant. The primary leadership role here is to surface the inputs that will form the organization’s future.

Leaders must also deal with the “don’ts” of the organization. Again, the task of the leader is to administer the inputs that will form the don’ts of the organization. By far, the most common source of don’ts relate to money and people–finances and personnel. A good leader will stay on the cutting edge of developmental policies that protect the human and capital assets of the organization. Organizations that consistently cross the line of don’ts find themselves unable to do much of anything in the long run.

On the other hand, too many rules and regulations can stifle the entrepreneurial spirits of the organization’s members and the creative atmospheres of organization’s culture. Roosevelt Thomas, in his book Building a House for Diversity, points out that the true requirements or prohibitions within an organization must be separated from the preferences and traditions of the organization. That is the role of a leader.

Leaders also must process the differences within an organization with respect to people.

I am convinced that great visions can only be achieved by teams with great diversity. The more that the members of an organization differ from one another, the more resources are at the disposal of the organization to achieve its vision. Many leaders make the mistake of equating clarity of focus with similarity of membership. It is the preciseness of the vision that creates teamwork rather than the homogeneity of the participants. Good leaders create enough differences among the talents, gifts, and styles of the members so as to make the achievement of the vision possible. Leaders do this by recruiting new individuals for the team, either employees, volunteers, or partners in other organizations for a specific task.

Effective leaders control the inputs related to the dos, don’ts and differences within an organization in order to develop them into a cohesive framework. In my next column, we also will see how managers deal with those same three tasks by controlling the outputs related to them.

Jeff Woods is associate general secretary for regional ministries with the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

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