The Missing Authority: Leadership VS. Management


By Hani Hmedeh

A lesson learned from a TRUE story...

PART I: The UGLY truth

There was a mid-level manager who joined a corporate firm as a senior technical manager leading different teams. He had high expectations driven by leadership competencies required to manage his teams effectively and deliver projects successfully. After 3 months only, he started facing a true challenge from his direct manager who was trying to limit his authority which to fail him.

I know … it sounds weird to have a direct manager trying to limit the capability of his subordinate, but this is a real situation in many companies... and unfortunately, this is the UGLY TRUTH.

PART II: The TOUGH fact

Back to the ugly truth, this manager was working very closely with his team with transparency & respect. After 11 months, he was able to deliver his projects ahead of schedule with better quality and higher stakeholders & clients' satisfaction.

... and the story continues, and our manager was able to build new capacities in his team in the following years and gained new opportunities for himself and the team. On the other hand, his upper manager was losing his motive to limit his authority and started accepting the TOUGH FACT. In simple words, our manager was UNSTOPPABLE!!! Moreover, our manager was able to turn "assuming to fail projects" to successful ones with a short time frame.

After three years, he left the firm to start a new journey and continue his successful career as a senior manager. Our famous guy was an exceptional manager who was able to overcome a tough situation with a traditional/old school direct manager.

PART III: The REAL power

This is not the end of the story, this is just the beginning!

The logical/ straightforward question that comes to our mind is: "How is he able to succeed in his journey where he WAS NOT ALLOWED to? How did he make it? What was the secret receipt?"

One day, I asked him the same, and he replied:

“I led by influence and did not manage by authority!!! Authority is a power given to you, and it can be taken back at any time; where influence is the power you hold, and no one can take it from you.”

In the end, this is a story of a LEADER… he succeeded as a leader and failed as a manager; he was able to perform, deliver and win the journey, but he failed to gain the MISSING AUTHORITY and playing the role of manager as it should.

We might agree with our manager or we might not; however, there is a good lesson to learn from this experience. It's the fact that Good Leaders know how to deal with the Ugly Truth, and Good Managers know how to use the real authority, but what we really need nowadays, managers who practice both strong management skills and effective leadership skills; managers that know how to use their authority and extend it by influencing their teams, colleagues and upper management. 

By Hani Hmedeh