I have written on several occasions about leadership versus management.

Naturally, I pointed out how they are different.  But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t related.  And it doesn’t absolve a leader for management lapses.

Consider this…a poorly managed organization simply cannot have its leader considered to be a good leader.  If the organization is running poorly, it’s because of bad leadership.

I usually don’t speak in absolutes, but this time I will.  If an organization is experiencing problem after problem after problem, it has a sh***y leader.  No exceptions.

That leader may say “It’s not my fault.  I’m the leader.  I am not managing operations.  I am not involved in the day-to-day tactical stuff.  Things will get straightened out eventually.”

But that’s using “leadership and management are different” as an excuse.  An unacceptable excuse.

Good leaders do not let their organizations flounder.  If a process is broken, the leader will lead the fixing of that process.  If an employee is problematic, the leader will either correct the employee’s performance or replace the employee.  As I’ve said before, “every leader is a coach, and coach is a verb as well as a noun.”

And, “I inherited my employees” isn’t an excuse either.  Great leaders make their people better or they move them out.  Yes, it takes guts to fire an employee, especially if you’re new to an organization.  But, anyone without guts is not cut out for leadership.  Leadership is only for the courageous.  Sorry not sorry.

Great leaders run organizations that get purchased goods and services delivered on time without experiencing supplier problems, have technology that makes operations efficient, pay suppliers on time, have employees that are busy but not overwhelmed, and achieve financial numbers that improve quarter over quarter and year over year.

So, if an organization isn’t getting their goods and services delivered on time, or has problems with its suppliers, or finds that technology is causing as many problems as it solves, or has suppliers complaining about late payment, or has overwhelmed employees, or finds that its revenue and/or profit margin is shrinking rather than growing, then that organization has a bad leader.  No other explanation required.

Doesn’t matter who in the trenches may be at fault.  The leader has allowed the poor performance to happen.  Doesn’t matter if there are managers directly responsible for execution.  Bad performance indicates bad leadership.

While leadership and management are indeed separate disciplines, you cannot separate results from leadership.  If the results suck, leadership sucks.  Management is almost irrelevant.  If the leaders aren’t taking corrective action with managers, the appropriate corrective action is to send the leader packing.

Not everyone is cut out for leadership.  And anyone who isn’t cut out for leadership should step back into a non-leadership role.  It doesn’t mean that you’re not a great business person.  Only that leadership ain’t your bag, baby.  There’s no shame in that.

If you are a leader and intend to stay one, I hope that this unvarnished rant inspires you to continue to hold yourself accountable to being a great leader as well as holding yourself accountable for having a well-managed organization.  Without excuses.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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