I’ve noticed a trend lately in
many articles and posts online to cast management as a bit of a negative beast
from the past and leadership as the enlightened path to the future.

“Don’t be a manager… be a

Compliance versus commitment.

There was a similar trend for
people in sales a while back as the profession was cast with a negative spin; “call
yourself anything but a salesperson”.

But is this really justified or
even necessary? Is it actually harmful?

Management leadership visionary strategy business success

I believe we are we comparing
leadership done right with management done wrong. We are looking at what “is”
in many organizations rather than what should be. Holding onto patterns of the

Whether intentional or not; language, perceptions and attitude matter.

Maybe we are complicating things.

Comparing apples and oranges.

Starting at the Top

Some definitions I found (Google
and Dictionary.com):

Leadership (noun)

  • The action
    of leading a group of people or an organization.

Lead (verb)

  • To go before
    or with to show the way; conduct or escort: to lead a group on a cross-country
  • To conduct
    by holding and guiding: to lead a horse by a rope.
  • To influence
    or induce; cause: Subsequent events led him to reconsider his position.

Management (Noun)

  • The responsibility for and control of a company
    or similar organization: "the management of a newspaper".

Manage (verb):

  • Be in charge of (a company, establishment, or
    undertaking); administer; run.
  • Administer and regulate (resources under one's
    control): "we manage our cash well".

These definitions actually have a lot of similarities and
they certainly don’t show either role to be inherently better or worse. Certainly
the horse being led by a rope does not imply commitment from the horse.

Both management and leadership can describe the top ranks of
an organization.

The Buck Stops Here

One of the early books that had a big impact on my
understanding of the importance of great managers was: ”First, Break All the
” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. They offer the following:

“Great managers look inward. They look inside the company,
into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs, and
motivation of each person… release each person’s unique talents into performance.”

“Great leaders by contrast look outward… the competition,
out at the future, out at alternative routes forward. They focus on broad
patterns… then press home their advantage… must be visionaries, strategic
thinkers, activators….”

“Talented employees need great managers. The talented
employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders… but how long
that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by
his relationship with his immediate supervisor.”

Managers are not leaders in waiting.

They are an essential part of an organization and great managers definitely inspire top performance from teams without using the stick.

Middle Ground

Of course, one person is never 100% of either. People have
talents that are a mix of the two sides.

They are somewhere in the middle.

However, one talent is usually more dominant.

Ultimately Manager

In the “Ultimate Sales Machine”, Chet Holmes states that from his experience 90%
of executives are predominantly tactical thinkers, 9% think strategically and
only 1% of them have the rare ability to do both well.

This would imply that 90% are really acting more as management and
not leadership, despite the titles.

Another Pattern

Les McEown (Predictable Success and The Synergist) relates
another useful natural pattern within corporate teams:

  • The Visionary – bold dreamers
  • The Operator – pragmatic realists, doers.
  • The Processor – systems designers
  • The Synergist – rare and learnable style that
    brings the others together.

People are a mix but usually have a dominant style.

All four types must be present in a team or organization for
long-term success and they transcend leadership, management, follower roles.

This means that both leaders and managers can be a mix of
these four types.

If all four types are not represented and operating well
together you will never achieve what Les calls “Predictable Success” or what we
call “Manifasting your dream business”.

Making this Useful

You have to be clear what your organizational objectives
are. You have to look at the culture and the culture out in the greater

What worked yesterday may no longer work today. Things

Understand enough of the patterns to overlay the mix
required for success in your organization.  This diversity and match-up is critical to
organizational success.

However you slice it and whatever you call it; “managers”
are an essential role in any organization and should be cherished, encouraged
and developed into greatness. Let’s lose the rhetoric.

"A rose by any other name is still a rose."

Ultimately, the key is to know:

  • When to lead,
  • When to manage,
  • When to follow, and
  • When to just stay out of the way and let your
    team succeed.

And by all means, develop great managers, leaders and team
members along the way.