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Management is a science, but leadership is an art

One of Britain's great military leaders of the last century, Field Marshal William Slim, made an interesting distinction between leadership and management:

Leadership is of the spirit compounded of personality and vision; its practice is an art. Management is of the mind, more a matter of accurate calculation, of statistics, of methods, time tables, and routine; its practice is a science. Managers are necessary; leaders are essential.

Slim wrote this in 1957 and it has been argued that he was well ahead of his time. The personal dimension of being a manager is now very much to the fore, particularly with organisations pursuing ways of improving employee engagement.

A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that managers who invested time in talking to their staff and getting to know them, who consulted them rather than simply ordered them, who took responsibility and stayed calm under pressure, were those who enjoyed the highest levels of employee engagement and lowest levels of stress and absence.

It's not enough to be accomplished with the mechanics of the business, such as the organisational and logistical matters - though, obviously, those are important too. Managers who can add the 'soft skills' to these 'hard skills' are much more likely to have engaged employees who 'go the extra mile' for their organisations.

Acas runs practical training courses on many aspects of People management, including Skills for supervisors and Staff retention, designed to develop communication and engagement with employees, for improved long-term motivation and productivity.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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