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Leadership and Management

Over the past four weeks, I have been preparing for an October 14 presentation at the United Nations.  The audience list was created by a Member of the UN Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the host was the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.  The attendee list included some of the most notable Non Government Organizations as well as leadership from UN organizations UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Women and many more.

As I prepared for this, I had as an operating premise the idea that these organizations face unique challenges unlike the corporations with whom I most often work.  I have since come to the conclusion that I was probably wrong.  Organizations seem to face the same challenge set no matter what their type of commitment.

As I see it, there are four primary factors in the success of organizations:


  • Leadership
    • The commitment to produce a result that is extraordinary given current circumstances
    • The integrity to stick to the commitment even in the presence of challenge
  • Management
    • A systematic approach to keeping track of all of the details and processes necessary to produce the intended result
    • The process of identifying what is not working or cannot be done by using current methodology
  • A Systematic approach to dealing with those issues that stand in the way of success (breakdowns)
  • Effective communication
    • Leadership/Management communication of vision, strategy and expectation
    • The room for Team members to identify what is not working

In many organizations, either leadership or management dominates.  There is a fundamental conflict between the two regarding risk tolerances.  Management’s function is (to oversimplify) risk avoidance.  Leadership, on the other hand, is essentially risky.  In the presence of leadership and with the absence of management, the likelihood of success is small and might well be equated to “Beginners Luck.”  In the presence of Management and with the absence of Leadership, success is likely, but the results are going to remain solidly within the domain of the predictable and ordinary.  Nothing extraordinary will occur.  Combine Leadership and Management and the possibilities are endless.

Please, in your comments, share your experience, and let us know what conclusions you have drawn, or simply pose questions regarding these issues.


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