Promoting Process Over Value and Management Over Leadership – Do You Want A Seat at The Table?

Internal Talent Acquisition (TA) has a problem. We are unconsciously incompetent.

Internal TA is, in the scheme of things, a relatively new function. Given this, we have taken metrics from what we know, mainly from the agency recruitment model. This, per se, isn’t an issue. To be clear, I think there’s a whole lot that the internal TA world could learn from our agency peers. I absolutely agree that all these areas should be monitored and tracked; but the big issue is we’ve set up systems, processes, tools, and management all focused on metrics that simply don’t give us the ammunition to have the type of impactful conversations we need internally to have the desired seat at the table.

Our KPIs and metrics are all around cost reduction and process improvement/efficiency, not value and impact; we promote the strongest recruiters in these areas, often the most effective process managers, and that is an issue. The skill set needed to be a strong process manager is not the same skill set required to be a strong and capable functional or business leader.

There is an excellent article, which put it better than I ever could:

John Kotters’ distinction (“Leading Change” HBSP, Boston, MA: 1996) was as follows the main three things that the manager does are:

  • Plans and budgets (the manager sets up timetables to achieve results, and allocates needed resources for execution)
  • Organizes and staffs (the manager sets up structures to accomplish the plan, staffs the structure, delegates authority to execute the plan, provides policies and procedures to guide the staff, and creates systems to monitor the execution)
  • Controls and solves problems (the manager keeps an eye on outcomes, detects variations from the plan, and plans and organizes to correct such variations)

Hence, the essence of management is predictability and order – to produce short-term results – for customers, for stockholders, etc.

In contrast, the main three things that the leader does are:

  • Establishes direction (the leader develops a vision and the necessary strategy for achieving such vision)
  • Aligns people (the leader communicates the course in such a way that all those whose cooperation is needed, understand it, accept it, and act upon it)
  • Motivates and inspires (the leader helps people to overcome barriers to change, by satisfying basic human needs

Hence, the essence of leadership is change – to produce long-term results – like new breakthrough products, new markets, etc.

In short, the difference between leadership skills vs. management skills is:

  • Management deals mostly with the status quo – the existing state of affairs.
  • Leadership deals mostly with change – the future state of affairs.

Structures and systems are tools that managers tend to use more.
Culture and vision are tools that leaders tend to use more.

Management deals more with the immediate future.
Leadership deals more with the long-term future.

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I repeat:

  • The essence of management is predictability and order.
  • The essence of leadership is change.

The fact is that predictability and order won’t get you the seat at the table that so many in our industry crave.

Be bold, be brave, change the status quo, establish a clear direction, align your team, and inspire them to be better than they ever thought they could be. Then you will start to see the results and have the conversations that will mean you have the seat you are wanting.