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Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Tale: Finding Leadership @ the Grocery Store

Often misunderstood & often confused, leadership is not the same as management.
Thankfully, the tale you are about to read will help flush out the difference ...  Enjoy!

Imagine a simple little grocery store on the corner called Frank's Fresh Foods managed by a smart fellow named Pete.

We walk in Frank's and notice that the store is clean, laid out nicely, and the stock is clearly marked.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and we discover further that the store turns a profit.  We would say that this store is well managed.  Pete, the manager is responsible for the operation of this enterprise and has maximized his finances, facility; human resources.  All in all he is an effective manager that understands the system.

Now let us imagine that a new store opens up right across the street from Frank's Fresh Foods ... The Super Duper Market.

This store has a larger sales area, a wider selection, and better prices than Frank's.
Chances are Frank's well managed shop will lose customers to the new market and perhaps go out of business.

-What happened?
The environment changed.  Maintaining the status quo is acceptable only when the environment is also status quo. 

Back to the story...
The owner of Frank's (let's be creative and call him Frank) must now take the mantle of leadership for his very survival. 
He instructs Pete that the shop will now institute some new services, such as home grocery delivery, delivery through the Internet and special order foods for diabetics and others with health problems.  Frank's Fresh Foods will change from a simple corner grocery store to a specialty food shop that provides person to person service.

Frank explains to Peter that though the transition might be a bit rocky, there is a good chance that they will become even more profitable than they are at the present time.

-This is leadership
Leaders find a way to direct their organizations forward in a positive direction despite the adversities. They accept challenges.  They are not reluctant to change. In fact, true leaders never stop thinking about change. 

Once Pete institutes those changes, management can again take over to make sure everything that the leader proposed is running smoothly.

Do not confuse the two: Management alone, as excellent as it might be, focuses on the "now" to be effective.  Leadership looks to the future and the changes that must be made.  Remember, you lead people & manage things...

Consider the story without Frank's leadership.
No leadership would have left Frank's Fresh Foods to wither and die.
It would have simply ran off of the fumes from their historic past and atrophied away.
There is a very significant lesson here for organizations; You must be intentional about employing and releasing leadership or you and your company will become a thing of the past.

Mark 2: 22
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

*The story above (minus the applications & sidenote) were first discovered in a book titled, "Time for a Change" by Larry Stout.


Ann Mullen said...

That was as clear an explanation as any I have ever read. Could I use it as a blog for my boss Jaco Grobbelaar's blog BroadVision Marketing? I would give you complete byline, attribution and put your picture at the bottom.

Email me at to let me know.


Anthony K said...

Ann, Sure thing.

Anonymous said...

Nice one. Now i think of right and wrong, sinful nature vs Godly nature. See sin comes simple, more easy, faster to get what you want.But faith unlike sin, isnt at our finger tips, right around the corner. So as "sheep" we need leaders to give us other options, to change and grow with us the status que ( spell check) But what im saying is easy isnt always better, sometimes you may have to reach further to "out do" the comp, but reguardless either way you need to find a way around, a way to still reach your respected "customers" and give them what the need. (D)

D truth Uncensored said...

Wow, really brilliant! Well explained and illustrated! Thanks to you, I now have a better understanding of 'the difference between leadership and management'. Keep it up.

Matthew Scott K said...

Great read and to the point. Thanks Anthony!

Nicole Bandes said...

I think this is the challenge with most failed businesses. The "business owner" is merely a manager that happens to own the business. They lack the ability to adapt as things change.

There's a reason Apple stopped focusing on computers and started focusing on personal devices like the Ipod. The climate had changed.

Good post.

Anthony K said...

Everything rises AND falls on leadership...