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Management vs. Leadership

“Management is about maintaining processes, disciplines and systems. Where managers keep the rules, leaders have to be willing to break them, or at least find creative ways around them.” I recently read an article that Richard Branson wrote, quoted above, on the differences between leaders and managers and I started thinking more about this topic, many of my clients, and the critical role each person plays in an organization.

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

  1. The manager administers; the leader innovates.

  2. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

  3. The manager maintains; the leader develops.

  4. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

  5. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

  6. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

  7. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

  8. The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

  9. The manager imitates; the leader originates.

  10. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

  11. The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

  12. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. But in the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent, and inspire results. As you think about hiring your next President, Executive Director, or executive level collaborator, I recommend you consider what the organization needs both today and tomorrow; be aspirational and aim to find leaders in your search process. Until next month!


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