“Every management problem you have today was a leadership failure yesterday.”

Leaders who don’t understand their role as a strategic leader will constantly try to overcome their leadership failures with better management solutions. They remain mired in their day-to-day management problems and never address their leadership failures that could have prevented most of them.

Whatever shows up on their daily radar screen is where they focus all their time and energy. There never seems to be anything left in the tank with which to focus their leadership strengths on the future and a plan to prevent possible problems is non-existent.

The word strategic by definition means, “Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.”

If you have strategic (future) leadership responsibilities your primary function is modeling and communicating—not managing the mission, vision and core values. If you don’t, who will? Your secondary role is developing, empowering and inspiring your team to win in the future—not just solve today’s problems.

You can either manage your organization or you can lead it. You cannot do both at the same time and do both well. If you try you will do neither well. You will end up frustrating both those you lead and those you’re trying to serve.

Are you leading, creating the future? Or managing, responding to the next urgency or crisis? A quick look at your calendar, your “To Do List” and your appointment schedule will quickly tell you.

If you’re the one responsible for creating the future and you spend more than twenty percent of your time on current problems chances are you are managing the present, not leading to the future. If you want to reduce your management problems quit trying to be a better manager and develop better leadership skills.

You create a better today with effective and efficient management solutions. That’s why you have “managers.” However, you only create a better tomorrow through strategic planning and rigorous execution. That’s why you’re called a leader.

“But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen.”
Isaiah 37:26 (NLT)

The BP deep-well oil rig crisis in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago was first a failure of BP leadership before it ever became a management problem that couldn’t be overcome, even by their best managers.

What is your priority today, leading or managing? Not sure, look at your task list for today!