What does this mean?: Management and leadership

Sorting out the difference between management and leadership has kept many an academic and consultant occupied, resulting in thousands of books and ‘new’ approaches. For job applicants, figuring out what to say on selection criteria can be yet another challenge blocking their way to their dream job.

For people applying for jobs in the Australian Public Service, the APS capability framework now widely used gives some insight into the distinction.

This capability framework, known as The Integrated Leadership System (ILS), says “It balances the relationship between leadership, management and technical skills in public service careers – it is not a traditional leadership model.”

The ILS recognises that leaders need a mixture of technical and management expertise as well as leadership capabilities. This mix differs depending on the level of seniority of the person.

The leadership component in the ILS is particularly reflected in three capabilities:

  • Shapes strategic thinking
  • Achieves results
  • Cultivates productive working relationships.

If you wish to demonstrate your leadership, consider how you have done the following:

  • Developed a vision (picture of how things could be in the future) and/or strategic direction (goals) for your team, unit, branch.
  • Promoted this picture and these goals to staff.
  • Persisted with getting work done according to what was intended.
  • Encouraged others to get work done and achieve results.
  • Gathered information from a range of people. (diversity)
  • Listened to different viewpoints.
  • Mentored and coached staff.
  • Supported staff when times get tough.
  • Taken action to build or maintain morale.

If you wish to demonstrate your management abilities, consider how you have done the following:

  • Researched and analysed an issue, distilled the core issues, presented logical arguments with accurate conclusions.
  • Monitored performance, identified success and risk factors, adjusts plans as needed.
  • Responded to changing demands.
  • Managed a contract so that relevant professional expertise is obtained.
  • Taken a planned approach to a project or program.
  • Adjusted plans when circumstances change.
  • Negotiated an outcome based on a strong grasp of issues and a convincing case.
  • Communicated a message clearly and concisely in language appropriate to an audience.

Key skill areas for managers include:

  • Risk management
  • Project management
  • Contract management
  • Knowledge management
  • Talent management
  • Change management
  • Resource management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Relationship management.

A past  APSC State of the Service Report [2007-08] identifies what capacities APS leaders need. They are:

  • Capacity to develop innovative solutions to complex policy problems
  • Be able to work with many different stakeholders
  • Be adept at delivering business in different ways
  • Build agile organisations with depth of capability to adapt
  • Drive performance and productivity improvements
  • Act as a role model of the APS Values.

The report also identifies commonly reported skill gaps for those feeding the executive group:

  • People management
  • Capacity to steer and implement change
  • Capacity to think strategically.
Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.