Why Leadership and Management are very different things – The 3-1 rule

Recently a very good friend and colleague told me I was a good manager. Although I was very much grateful and humbled I thought about what she had said quiet deeply. Although I accepted it publically inside I disagreed with her kind comment. I felt what she saw as management I realised was leadership. This said she disagreed and I was curious as to why she gave me such strong praise, as in the past at least I never felt worthy of such a comment.

My first feeling was that although I had led this particular lady and gave her a direction and I hope inspired her to be all she could be, when it came to supporting her properly I realised the rapid growth of our company. Meant I had very much been a poor support for her in regards to management. I had been so focused on the future that I hadn’t given her the time she deserved in reviewing her work, supporting her in her goals and also definitely hadn’t give her enough praise. Despite my lack of management support she had still knocked it out of the park and delivered things I had never expected.

I realised then that I was lucky to have taken my past learnings and to have recruited in her an A Player who didn’t need the management support of maybe a less experienced and able person.
This said It’s important to see how critical it is to lead and to manage/ follow up in the right proportion. Despite it working for a while a lack of management focus becomes a serious risk if time isn’t directed appropriately.
In order to manage myself I have a simple but what I think is now an effective rule. If I manage the time of my direct reports more than once in a month, outside of co-ordinating our efforts together (sprints, stand ups etc) then I am over managing, and most probably smothering them.

If however I was to not pay attention to what matters and forgot to review life goals once every three months (The three from the rule) then that would be too long, and I’d be at risk of them not seeing the big picture for where their talent applies and how they can contribute to changing the world.

It might not work for everyone, some people have rules, regulations and processes hedged round it, but for me micro management is bad, just as a lack of management is to.
This rule of thumb keeps me sane, and although not a natural manager I perhaps had some help from experience and from my simple rule to help me on my way and so I’m prepared to accept the compliment graciously after all.
If only I’d learned this earlier, hope others can live the 3 -1 rule in their own companies. As I have no doubt it will make for happier, healthier more fulfilled staff.