The leadership-management-delivery triangle: a useful, practical tool
The leadership-management-delivery triangle aids reflection, feedback discussions, goal setting and coaching.
I’m coming to the end of studying for an MBA at Henley Business School and I’ve enjoyed exploring the various theories, tools and techniques and putting them into action.
As I near the end, I’ve been working through the ‘Leadership and Change’ module and it has prompted me to think about leadership, management and delivery. Warren Bennis (1989) famously wrote, “Managers do things right while leaders do the right thing”. We might also say that delivery is about ‘Doing it’.
We frequently separate out leadership, management and delivery, although all three have been present to a lesser or greater extent in every role that I’ve had. I’m sure the same is true for you as well.
The LMD triangle
I started thinking about leadership, management and delivery as a continuum with ‘Do the right thing’, ‘Do things right’ and ‘Doing it’ at the vertices of a triangle (see the figure). I then started playing with it.
I used the leadership-management-delivery triangle to compare what I was doing against my job description and other people’s expectations. I assessed my role as a whole, different areas and even specific projects. It prompted useful reflection as well as constructive discussions with my colleagues: was I doing too much, had I stepped up or was the balance about right.
I have also used the triangle with colleagues to prompt discussions during the appraisal process as well as for ongoing coaching. I have found it useful for understanding where colleagues see themselves, for discussing where others see them in a 360 degree appraisal, for setting goals and coaching improvement. One of its greatest benefits is promoting common understanding during difficult discussions.
Let’s consider a fictional annual appraisal with a direct report:
- We can diagnose how they see the balance of their job, areas of their job or specific tasks.
- We can give feedback on specific areas, discuss where they need to be and plan the journey.
- We can set annual development goals to alter the balance of their role (e.g. leading a particular project).
- It gives the appraiser confidence that the appraiser is listening to them and is a way for the appraiser to gather feedback on what is working and what is not (thank you to John Lavrakas for his input).
Later during the year, it can then be used for ad hoc coaching discussions: agreeing goals, assessing the current status, brainstorming options and planning actions.
Comments & Feedback
I’ve found the leadership-management-delivery triangle to be a useful and practical tool. I’d welcome your comments and feedback.
If you use the leadership-management-delivery triangle and it works for you, please consider referencing or linking to this blog post.