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Developing a leading edge

Leadership is back in fashion as an increasing number of hvac companies recognise the need for strong management to guide them through the choppy waters of recession.

Many industry figures are - like Martin Burton, president of the HVCA - becoming members of organisations such as the Institute of Leadership and Management.

The trouble is that nobody can agree on what leadership actually is.
Most people acknowledge that there is a big difference between leadership and management, but even here there is disagreement about what, precisely, the distinction is, or even whether it is important.

To some management thinkers, leaders are inspirational supermen or women with a crystal clear vision of where they want the company to go, and a bone-deep conviction of how to get there. Managers, on the other hand, are seen as plodding administrators displaying little direction and no imagination.
Others believe the distinction is less mystical. Leading management authority John Kotter puts it this way: "[Leadership] has nothing to do with having 'charisma' or other exotic personality traits. It is not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it...

"Companies should remember that strong leadership with weak management is no better, and is sometimes actually worse, than the reverse. The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management, and use each to balance the other."

This, I believe, cuts to the heart of the matter - leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Both are necessary to win in an increasingly complex, competitive, and volatile building services business environment.

All this may sound rather academic, but it is of vital practical importance. If the building services industry is to deliver the carbon savings demanded by an increasingly insistent Government, then we need the support of top flight leaders.

However, they are a rare breed. As the leading management thinker Groucho Marx pointed out: "Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men - the other 999 follow women."
Posted by David Dunn 24 February 2011 12:10:28 Categories: General manager

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