Leadership versus Management (2)

More on why leadership works:

Depending on leadership was successful for me even when I wasn’t a designated leader. When I worked with army and Marine combat units on the battlefields of Vietnam, I put the welfare of the men I was with first. They responded with astonishing achievements.

And during the fall of Saigon, my job was to keep our government leaders informed of what was happening. I turned over that task to the forty-three guys working for me, and I devoted myself to assuring that none of them would be killed or wounded when the North Vietnamese took Saigon. That meant that I escaped under fire as the last person left in my office. It was worth it. We carried out or mission with honor and superior results. And my people, all of whom got out unscathed, showed what they could do if led and not managed.

My superiors have occasionally criticized me for my inattention to management. One deputy director of the National Security Agency, my employer, observed that leading was all well and good as long as I kept my subordinates under control. Never mind. I never controlled, and even though I gave scant attention to my numbers, I didn’t have to. They were always top of the line.

I continue to be mystified by the American focus on management to the detriment of leadership. My best guess is that it’s because management is a whole lot easier. Leadership is the hardest work I’ve ever done. It demands the untiring commitment to the welfare of the followers. It requires, frankly, love. But it’s dividends are worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears.

In short, if you want results, lead. That’s the path to glory.

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