Good management is first and foremost a question of leading an organization so that results are achieved, while at the same time ensuring the conditions for commitment and performance among the employees. If we are to ensure leadership that creates commitment among employees in order to achieve the organization’s goals, we must have the right balance between leadership and management, both of which are well rooted in the organization’s raison d’être and core delivery.
While management is about defining goals, priorities and structure, leadership is about relationships, values, cultural and behavioral influences and opinion formation. As leaders, we must ensure that the relationship between leadership and management actions is balanced in the right way. Let’s first take a closer look at steering.
Management as part of leading an organization is the actions we perform to determine structure. A well-functioning organization must have a clear and distinct framework for collaboration, clear expectations for the various roles in the organization, effective tools for improvement processes, non-conformance management, quality and development work. In the organization’s management model, we must also take into account how we are to relate to employer responsibility, which in turn is regulated in legislation and agreements. This is also an element in the management that too few managers seem to have a clarified relationship, probably because the topic is fraught with some uncertainty. Of course, an important part of governance is also to exercise the owners’ right to govern through the work of the board and the leaders – again within the framework of the Nordic model for involvement and corporate democracy.
When we say that leadership is first and foremost about creating good relationships between people, we are thinking of leaders’ responsibility to create meaning in the work of the individual. To achieve this, we must be able to see and apply the employees’ different personalities, and facilitate good working conditions based on individual dialogue. When we facilitate the performance of work tasks and adapt working conditions for the individual, we work with both emotions, values and personal perceptions. This is how we create commitment to the organization’s objectives and the specific tasks that must be done for us to achieve the goals. This sets the conditions for how we develop people and organizational culture.
The two parts of the model each affect two important organizational systems; the cultural and the structural. Through good management, we create good structures related to conditions such as HSE, quality and costs. Through good leadership, we create the conditions for the various structural elements to be followed up, realized and provide value for the customer.
Here also lies the great challenge, namely that the individual manager must balance these two aspects, based on how he or she experiences the context in which they perform their leadership. Awareness-raising around this balance requires both practical experience, feedback from employees and reflection. Experience shows that a good support for such learning can be structured professional coaching of leaders, either individually, in groups or a combination of these.
Set good goals
Goal management is a topic that is often debated in public. It seems that most people agree that goals must be set. The question becomes how and where detailed. A key word is involvement. The goals must be set in collaboration between employees and management. Such cooperation is absolutely crucial for creating meaning and ownership of the goals, and thereby prerequisites for everyone to take responsibility for achieving them. The balance between management and leadership will then be decisive for the effect on commitment and goal achievement.
Leaders are models both for what is considered correct behavior, values and forms of interaction. Leading by example is therefore invaluable. The leader’s own follow-up of the goals by creating faith in the importance of them, making good arrangements to achieve them, follow up and motivate, is thus a prerequisite for creating trust.
Employees with high competence will expect mutual trust, ie managers also have confidence that employees can deliver well towards the goals without being controlled in detail. Instead of us as managers asking ourselves what needs to be done, we who need to ask ourselves what we can do to cultivate enthusiasm, talent and competence in our employees. We can achieve this through a good combination of involvement in defining values, goals and follow-up of results. In this way, the employees themselves will see what it takes to achieve goals and deliver results that provide optimal customer value.
Cultivate good arenas
Disagreement about goals and priorities can be resolved in a better way if the organization has good arenas for cultivating dialogue, community and culture building. Managers and employees must also have a good dialogue outside common arenas such as meetings, gatherings and social events. At a time when it is becoming increasingly common for employees not to work in the same place, but are scattered in workplaces outside, with customers or home offices, we as managers must take the initiative and remove barriers to direct dialogue.
We can not treat employees like a herd. Here, arrangements must be made for individual dialogue between manager and employee, both in relation to work-related topics and to topics that may concern the employee on a more personal level. It is such individual attention that creates relationships and mutual commitment. The individual approach also has another effect, namely that the manager can find out what the individual is motivated by and how he or she best feels able to apply his or her competence. Unfortunately, many leaders underestimate the need to work on these issues, especially in a decentralized organization.
Performance management and work environment
In many cases, management has a one-sided belief in performance management as a tool to achieve good results. I think this is wrong, because it is too much aimed at covering external motivational factors such as better pay or promotion. A one-sided emphasis on performance, with the rewarding of employees who reach certain goals, can therefore have a negative effect. It is not a reward that motivates or creates the inner drive of employees. We create inner motivation by facilitating involvement in the company’s continuous improvement work, giving room for influence on one’s own work tasks, a feeling of mastery and creating an experience of belonging. In this work, the balance between leadership and management is absolutely essential.
One element in the structural part can be visual control, where the board meeting is central. Here, the manager facilitates the desired culture of improvement, involves the employees in setting goals, making suggestions for improvement, prioritizing and taking responsibility. A well-conducted board meeting is thus a simple example of how the balance between management and leadership can create commitment and drive for better goal achievement.