Is it leadership or management

Does the difference between Leadership and Management matter? There are lots of definitions and quotes that try to highlight the differences between the two;

In his 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis composed a list of some differences:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

There are lots more writers who have opinions on the differences;

You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. —Stephen Covey

And maybe a very nice way of putting it is the quote from Ross Perot:

Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead. —Ross Perot

There are thousands of quotes and opinions, and most agree there is a difference. On this blog you will see a mix of stories under the heading 10pointsmanagement that will sometimes highlight a leadership aspect and at other times focus on good management.

It is my experience that leadership and management are both part of getting the goals accomplished. Most teams will have a mix of leaders and managers, most leaders will have management qualities and most managers will have some leadership qualities. I have not seen many pure leaders, but I have worked with very inspirational people who definitively were leading a large organization with vision and fury but also had enough management savvy to be able to go in great detail with specialist managers from various functions.

Knowledge TeamSo does the difference matter? Well yes, you need both capabilities in an effective team to accomplish the goals. If you fail to realize that you have stuffed your organization with great managers and have not paid enough attention to leadership aspects of the teams, you’ll be at a disadvantage. If you have an abundance of leaders who don’t pay enough attention to managing the shop, you will also be at a disadvantage.

The thing that unites Leadership and Management is the passion both must have for accomplishing the organization’s ultimate goals. For a managers, checking the leadership horizon will stretch them and keep their management in perspective, for leaders not loosing focus on the management of the organization will keep them relevant and avoid loosing the connection with the company that they lead.


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