Management v Leadership
Lead Coach and Facilitator at Choose Leadership | Working with Purpose Driven Leaders and Organisations

When working with new managers, we make the distinction between management and leadership.


Well, organisations need leadership as well as skillful management to be successful. But the two things are often conflated, with disastrous effects.

The essence of management is to turn ideas, notions, goals, and objectives into results. It’s about turning aspiration into output.

The essence of leadership is to take responsibility for your world. It is about discovering what is needed in each moment and creating from everything around you, in service of vision and purpose.

It is dynamic and relational: it may require leading from the Front (visionary leadership), the Back (servant leadership), the Side (collaborative leadership) or the Field (empathic and intuitive leadership). This formulation of leadership allows everyone to be a leader. And it is always oriented by the leader Within (self-leadership).

It is not uncommon for people to believe that to be a leader, or a manager, you have to be appointed to the role.

Yet, this is only true for managers. They are appointed into the position. There’s usually a box on an organizational chart to prove it and to clarify the scope of their authority.

To be a leader, however, is a choice, a choice you make when you choose to take responsibility in any given situation.

Managers start with strategy. Leaders start with purpose.

A manager tends to focus on the HOW. A leader is more likely to start with the WHY.

When managers are reactive, they are likely to become more controlling, more protective or more complying. In short, a manager rarely becomes more of a leader, when reactive. 
A leader, on the other hand, taking responsibility for Self, experiences their own reactivity as both a warning sign that they are not on purpose, and an indication that they need to focus on recovering and returning to the calm and grounded place of self-leadership.

A manager is likely to start with the DOING of something. A leader is likely to start with the BEING, the context of the work at hand.

This tends to lead managers to seeking compliance with procedures, and processes, to producing agreed upon metrics, and holding their team members accountable.

Leaders are more likely to enroll their teams in a vision grounded in purpose, by touching, moving or inspiring them, thus generating commitment. That is what is meant by “the BEING” of the work. By aligning behaviour which will allow them to collectively achieve the “end in mind”, they inculcate a culture of responsibility, creating a virtuous cycle where ever more people take responsibility. 

Fortunately not all leaders are managers. Unfortunately, not all managers are leaders.

Great managers deliver results. Great leaders grow more leaders.

Organisations need more leaders, at every level.

Grow the leadership of your organisation – contact us today.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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