4 responses to “Management and Leadership (Differences?)”

  1. Steve, I think you’ve written one of the best pieces I’ve read about the “relationship” of leading and managing — and you did so at a time when it’s very much in vogue to preach that leading is very different than managing. That sermon is downright dangerous to up-and-coming employees who loathe their jobs because their jobs are not “leading,” but instead are (god forbid) only “managing.”

    I find that the people who assert there’s a strong difference are often people who do not have a lot of experience in organizations. People who see a strong integration of leading and managing are often highly experienced in organizations. Many of my clients smile when they read that there’s a strong difference — my clients know better.

  2. Hi Steve!

    My late mentor, Bob Terry, gave me a working distinction for managing and leading that I have found useful. When the person is working in the realm of the known they are managing, when they are working in the unknown they are leading. Therefore, with more experience one may manage more and ‘lead’ less because you have more information and experience to base your decisions. But if you have advanced in your career significantly, you may be on the forefront of the unknown – new strategies and business ventures, handling the most difficult people issues and therefore lead more by nature of your job. This may not work for others, but it clicked for me. Therefore, a leader/manager is an integrated role. It takes courage to venture out of what we know and lead in an area where there is uncertainty so leader/managers will show up in different proportion within the same person. The recent economy nose dive required leadership more than management since we weren’t in a known area to a great extent. That’s my 2 cents.

  3. Thanks Betsy for your thoughtful response. I think the integrated manager/leader is a really intriguing concept. I guess it is safe to assume that, based on this idea it is important that a person have self awareness about how they tend to function when immersed in the “unknown”. In your mind is the “unknown” typically associated with higher levels of stress? I ask because it is quite common for individuals in leadership roles to intensify their “default” leadership style when the stress level rises. If they tend toward, for lack of a better term, a managerial style of leadership, they will intensify that when under significant pressure. I also think that in trying times organizations will often emphasize a “back to the basics” mentality that may encourage management heavy leadership. I would be curious in your thoughts about this and how you apply this idea to your work with leaders – or as a leader.

  4. Maybe I don’t read the text right, but I almost get the feeling you, and also Mr. McNamara, see management and leadership almost of one and the same thing, where the level of experience distinguishes which term is the more correct one. This all depends on the definition you prefer to use when it comes to leadership.

    I do agree that management and leadership are highly connected, but that doesn’t mean you can see them as being the same. A manager has a leadership position, beyond any doubt. And I do agree that a manager should be a leader, but that doesn’t mean that the manager has leadership qualities. From an organizational perspective a manager is a leader, but what if the manager lacks leadership skills? Then the manager is definitely not a leader in the practical meaning of the word.

    If your article is about the theoretical vision on the manager/leader combination, you are right, but if we are talking about the practical vision, I do have my doubts. Many leadership discussions and blogs deal with the theoretical views and not always with the practical facts. Having a 20 year background in the armed forces, my focus on leadership is highly practical. :-)

    Again, I might read the article in a wrong way. English is not my first language after all.

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