Leaders Versus Managers

“You don’t manage people; you manage things. You lead people.”
-Admiral Grace Hooper

leader v mgrAdapted from a table at changingminds.org

This comparison is similar to the Entrepreneurs Versus Administrators relationship. One big difference is that entrepreneurship is usually associated with business or enterprise development. Of course, at the core of all of our explorations here is the idea of getting things done. Things do get done in organizations with rigid vertical organizational charts. Things also get done when passionate leaders build relationships and leverage diverse skills and
common values. A comparison of leaders and managers on the website diffen.com asks some questions that get to the heart of choosing an approach:

  • Does a manager have to be a great leader?
  • Does a leader need to have good management skills?

My response to both questions is, “not necessarily, but a little bit couldn’t hurt.” This is really a case of something not being questions of either/or, but rather times when both/and makes much more sense.

It’s like Grace Hooper said in the quote at the top of the page, people need leadership, but there are always details related to their work that require management. Even though these discussions center around leadership, business management guru Tom Peters is right when he said: “Stop being conned by the old mantra that says, ‘Leaders are cool, managers are dweebs.’ Instead, follow the Peters Principle: Leaders are cool. Managers are cool too!”

With this in mind, it seems critical for leaders to identify what aspects of the work that they are involved in require commitment to detailed control, and what aspects lend themselves to serving as a guide to help others navigate new terrain.

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