From a historical perspective, George Marshall or Dwight Eisenhower would not have succeeded in their World War II strategy without the tactical leadership of George Patton and Bernard Montgomery. Though all four men were committed to strategic objectives, Marshall and Eisenhower lacked tactical, operational leadership and could not have achieved the mission without the skills of Patton and Montgomery. While Marshall and Eisenhower were outstanding strategists and managers, it was Patton and Monty who were the outstanding tacticians leading the battles.

 

Leadership is an act where one person influences another to accomplish an action. To lead is to influence. Management is the activity of planning, organizing, coordinating, directing and controlling a process. To manage is more analogous to an administrative function such as planning an event, directing an activity or accounting for a process. Management and leadership are distinct and separate actions and should not be confused. Neither are they mutually exclusive. You can lead without managing, and you can manage without leading. Ideally, one would like to see their managers as leaders and vice versa. However, this is not always the case.

 

In the early 1980s, management guru Tom Peters introduced the world to a key management concept of managing by wandering around (MBWA). This concept is supposed to have originated at Hewlett Packard and was also in use in several other prominent companies. They discovered that companies in which top management interacted with the employees and customers were more successful than those with isolated management. Rather than micromanaging employees, MBWA allowed management to informally communicate with employees and to coordinate at a more personal level.

 

The first decade of the 21st century so far has been the decade of strategizing. Management is trying to identify and integrate technology with the business interests on a global scale. While senior management’s responsibility is to create the strategic vision, establish the mission in line with the vision, establish strategic objectives and have the departments and sections align their goals with the strategic objectives, senior management also has the responsibility to communicate those strategic objectives. In many cases, they do so quite successfully. However, with all of their other responsibilities, it is difficult for senior management to have a hand in, or even an awareness of, the day-to-day operations that accomplish the goals and objectives. These day-to-day operations are, in essence, the core competencies of the company.

 

Peters’s concept can be expanded. A manager can manage very little simply by wandering around because not much planning or organizing can be done on the fly. Attempts at this type of management have been dubbed many names, such as swoop management, fly-by or drive-by management to name a few. In fact, this style of management only serves to be reactive instead of proactive.

 

Management in the information and business technology world is crucial to maintaining project scope, project schedules and keeping in line with strategic objectives. Leadership, on the other hand, is the critical factor in influencing and inspiring self-directed, information technologists and engineers. Leading by wandering around (LBWA) can be a very effective method of communicating objectives and motivating employees to succeed. All good managers must have strong leadership skills.

 

Managers can lead by being seen, by showing an interest in what their employees are doing and asking questions, as opposed to just appearing when something goes wrong. Management not only needs to push the employees to meet key performance indicators, but they must also lead the employees to want to meet established goals. Managerial leaders must know what their employees face day to day, and the only way to do that is by wandering around, asking questions and showing an interest.

 

LBWA can be both educational for the manager and inspirational for the employees. Managerial leaders can motivate employees by getting involved and simply walking around and checking out the day-to-day. All managers should strive to be managerial leaders because everyone agrees that motivated employees can lead to greater productivity.

 

That is what made Patton and Montgomery so effective. They got more out of their troops than other generals because they were visible leaders who communicated the importance of the objectives.

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