Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 Simple "Truths" about Management vs. Leadership

Taylor discovers the truth about
the Planet of the Apes, 1967
1. Management and leadership are not the same. Not all leaders are managers and not all managers are leaders. You can be good at one and lousy at the other, or you can be good or bad at both.

2. *Managers plan and budget, organize and staff, control and solve problems, and produce predictability and order.

3. *Leaders establish direction, align people, motivate, inspire, and mentor, and produce change.

*Source: from John Kotter’s What Leaders Really Do, Harvard Business Review.

4. While leadership and management are different, they are complementary and equally important. One is not “gooder” than the other.

5. Organizations need great leadership and great management or they will crash and burn. To what degree of each depends on the degree of change needed.

6. Given the amount of change most organizations are facing, the need for leadership has increased while the need for management remains constant. Many, if not most organizations are facing a leadership shortage.

7. Neither management nor leadership are hereditary traits; they both need to be learned and developed over time. For most people, leadership tends to be harder and takes longer to develop.

8. While everyone has some potential to lead, some have more potential than others. Organizations need to cast a wide net to find these individuals and invest in their development.

9. Someone can be appointed a manager but you have to earn the title of leader. A manager can inherit or hire employees, while a leader has to “be elected” by followers to be their leader.

10. You can do management to manage, but you have to be a leader to lead. Management can be an 8-5 job, while leadership is transformational. There is no on and off switch.

While this may be one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written, it took me just as long as one of my 1000 word manifestos. It's taken me over 20 years to discover these "truths", so hopefully I've saved you some time. (-:



Alvaro Pozo said...

Great post!!! Thank you...

Dan McCarthy said...

Alvaro -

Jim Taggart said...

Good post, which is in my context. I'd add, based on the late Peter Drucker's insights, that when we speak of management and leadership that we're dealing with the left hand and right hand. In other words, management and leadership, as alluded to by guru Henry Mintzberg, they're integrated and one in the same.

Ashok Vaishnav said...

Indeed, an elixir! Presented in a nutshell!
The present or aspiring professionals of management and leadership practice may please read,re-read and take to the heart the last line - "It's taken me over 20 years to discover these "truths"..
There are no short-cuts, neither in the practice of management or in the discipline of leadership!
Both require learning, diligently and persistently over the years, in order to earn respect of your own self and your colleagues.

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks, I like the two hands analogy.

Thanks! Maybe I'm a slow learner. (-:

Mary Jo Asmus said...

Dan, excellent. This is something I would point even my senior leader clients to. It's a keeper, thanks.

Dan McCarthy said...

Mary Jo -
Thanks, I'm honored!

Singapuri said...

Leaders are Problem giver
Managers are Problem solver

Dan McCarthy said...

Singapuri -
Thanks. I'm not sure I understand why leaders are problem givers... ?

Jesse Stoner said...

Well said, Dan! I appreciate your making the distinction between the activity and the position. I get uncomfortable when we assign the behaviors to roles. It's much better to discuss the difference between management and leadership, than between managers and leaders. A person who has a title of "manager" can provide great leadership.

Eileen Wallace said...

Well put and what we teach our nonprofit leaders and wannabe leaders. thanks Eileen Wallace

Dan McCarthy said...

Jesse -
Thanks I'm glad you noticed that.

Eileen -

Ned Keitt-Pride said...

In preparing a presentation on a similar subject, I found it very illuminating to discover that "manage" derives from the Latin word for "hand" whereas "lead" derives from the Old English word for "travel".

Management is direct contact, hands-on manipulation - it works great with processes but is lousy with people. Leadership is about giving direction for a journey together - not so great for interacting with "things" but far better for interacting with people.

Dan McCarthy said...

Ned -
Thanks, interesting take.

John Murphy said...

Thanks for this. Very insightful and I will be sharing with my clients.
A mentor of mine told me many years ago that you lead people and manage things, and I always found that helpful.
Thanks again

Sophie said...

This reminds me of my management class when I was taking my undergrad course. I stumbled upon this topic too when I was reading one of Angelo Kinicki’s management book. Looking at how they handle their subordinates is also a great way to explain the difference between a manager and a leader. For a company to have a person who is both good in managing and leading is really an asset. Your blog is really informative and insightful. I enjoyed it. Thanks!

Micki McMillan said...

Dan has succinctly but eloquently summarized the definitions and the challenges of leadership and management. And although he titles his blog, "10 Simple Truths about Management vs. Leadership", he appropriately implies that there is nothing simple about either of these. He suggests that leaders, in particular, need to be aware of themselves, their impact on others, and understand the importance and the privilege of holding the mantle of leadership. We could not agree more. The soft stuff is the hard stuff, and the sooner managers and leaders understand that, the sooner their respective organizations will step into the future with a greater potential of success.

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks. Right, I've heard that too, but it seems to me that there are a lot of people aspects to management: hiring, training, organizing, assigning work, firing, etc....

Dan McCarthy said...


Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks! Agree, that soft stuff IS the hard stuff.

Bernd said...

What a great post! Thanks!
There is one point I'd like to add:
If an entrepreneur wants to grow his own company he/ she needs to be a leader. Bur he/she does not neccessarily needs to be the manager.

Dan McCarthy said...

Thank you.
Right, yet at some point, he/she is going to have to hire a manager, right?

Blogging4Jobs said...

It's agreeable that leadership is not a trait. However, there are some common traits found among effective leaders. Also, there is surely some crossover between good leaders and good managers. -JMM

Dan McCarthy said...

Jessica -

Troy said...

I'd like you to define what you mean by "be elected" by followers. I've found many times being a leader, you can win over your followers, and with most great leaders, people will naturally flock around to follow them.

I think I understand what you're getting at, but it would be nice to get your opinion on it. Should leaders be "elected" democratically? Would that system even work in a professional setting?

The ResumeBuilder said...

Management and Leadership are not only locked in to men. They can be for women. If you work hard enough, show your worth, and keep on striking the glass ceiling, it will shatter.

Dan McCarthy said...

Troy –
Thanks for commenting. By "elected", I meant "winning over", same as you. Sure, politicians, judges, sports team captions, and college deans can get elected into positions of leadership. I’ve often wondered the same thing – could it work for a business? I’m not really sure, but I doubt it.

Resumebuilder -
Thanks. Sure, leadership has nothing to do with race, gendor, age, etc....

Anonymous said...

Always great to read about the differences. Nice article.

My favorite quote which really makes the distinction clear is "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." by Peter F. Drucker, influential writer, management consultant, and self-described “social ecologist.”

Looking forward to reading more posts. Thanks! Jessica

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks for the Drucker reference!