What Leaders Really Do

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Planning and budgeting versus setting a direction

The aim of management is to obtain well-defined, orderly results. Therefore, managers engaged in the planning and budgeting process typically:

  • Craft specific targets or goals for the future (typically short-term)
  • Establish detailed steps for achieving the desired targets
  • Allocate the resources required to accomplish them

On the other hand, leadership's function is to enable change. Setting the direction for that change is of paramount importance. While there's nothing magical about this kind of work, it is more inductive and intuitive than planning and budgeting, and does not result in detailed plans. Setting a direction for change requires leaders to:

  • Gather a range of data and look for patterns, relationship, and linkages
  • Develop a vision of the future (often the distant future)
  • Craft the strategies necessary for achieving that vision

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