“If your team is suffocating on today’s problems, open the window and get a fresh view of the future.”

If allowed, the managers of every generation, regardless of the organization, make the rule book thicker and the reigns of authority tighter. Managers discuss the past, debate the present and argue about whose interpretation of the future is correct. All of this does little to significantly change the future.

Every organization needs competent managers to focus on the vision that strategic leaders create. But better management alone never changes the cultural landscape and builds effective teams that know how to win. This demands strategic leaders who create synergy for change around a constantly changing landscape on a daily basis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created in 1896 by Charles Dow with twelve companies. One hundred years later only one remained, General Electric. Why, because the other eleven companies became over managed and under-led. Organizations that die are simply managed to death. I have done autopsies of many dead organizations and the cause of death, with rare exceptions, is always the same, no strategic leadership.

The main difference between the two is that leaders have people that follow them, while managers have people who simply work for them. For any organization to be successful, it needs a manager that can plan, organize, and coordinate the team, while also inspiring them to be their personal best.

They also must have a leader who knows when to be among the people developing relational equity, ahead of the people finding the path through the unknown, and when to disappear to a secret place creating opportunities the team could never create for themselves.

If you don’t have great leaders, you will run out of tomorrows. If you don’t have great managers, your todays will be chaotic and toxic. When your team looks at you and the team’s effort, what do they see? Do they see a compelling future that brings synergy and renewed energy? Or, do they see apathy and a de-energized team going through the motions?