John Kotter’s classic, Leading Change, makes a powerful distinction between management and leadership. Kotter says that management is focused on the effective maintenance of the status quo, i.e. they keep things going. In contrast, leadership is about a vision for the future; it is about moving things in a new direction.
Every organization needs both types: competent managers and effective leaders. Most human resource programs focus on management programs. Many confuse leadership development with management programs.
How are we building leader-ful organizations?
How are we ensuring that we can sustain organizations and keep them adaptive enough to a rapidly changing world?
Lately, much of my reading has focused on that rare breed of business leader known as “entrepreneurs.” As I’ve studied the maverick product designer and the venture capitalist, I’ve come to appreciate the parallels they have to the nonprofit sector. In particular, I’ve been taken aback by how start-ups have to deal with an environment of limited resources.
The difference is that, in the nonprofit sector, we tend to relate to the context of “not enough” from the place of deficiency: There’s a finite amount of charitable dollars for which we must compete, and that’s what we get to work with. Resource constraints become our ceilings and walls.
In contrast, entrepreneurs tend to relate to “not enough” as a constraint to be transcended: It is not something that one should allow to stop them, but rather a bar over which we must leap. Resource constraints become our floor.
When you butt up against “not enough,” are you choosing to be stopped by it? Or are you choosing to reach beyond it?