The Essentials to Leadership


Being in a leadership role can be a challenge. This blog post will provide tips on how to move from the "weeds of management" to the "light of leadership."

Management vs. Leadership

As a business consultant and teacher I’ve had the good fortune of working in many different industries with a wide range of CEO’s, Leaders and Owners and have observed what I felt was great leadership and also incredible management skills. Both of these qualities are required to be successful and yet it’s often misunderstood what the differences are in these two important skill sets. I set out to find what the prevailing thoughts are on the subject and compiled some highlights here that are vital for leaders and managers who have bottom line responsibilities to create success. And it’s especially relevant for managers on the path to graduate to leadership.

I’ll start with a quote from the book Cultural Intelligence for Leaders (see link below): “Warren Bennis famously wrote in his book On Becoming a Leader that a manager does things right and leaders do the right thing. Like other leadership scholars, Bennis makes a clear distinction between leadership and management and between managers and leaders.

A manager’s behavior and activities focus on controlling, planning, coordinating, and organizing. This differs from a leader, whose behaviors and tasks focus on innovation, vision, motivation, trust, and change. Bennis (1985).” There are a number of sources that will display the differences – see the following two charts.

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Follow Me

On what is leadership, business visionary, consultant and teacher Peter Drucker sums up it up this way: "The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To gain followers requires influence but doesn't exclude the lack of integrity in achieving this” (Yukl, 1989). Having influence by being the CEO or Owner or someone that signs the checks is often enough to get people to follow but may not be enough to get them to love it. George Carlin once said: “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”

The chart below taken from a book by Richard Daft highlights the key differences between leading and managing and on the leader side of the ledger we find that creating a shared culture and values is required. Building a culture that can see your vision will create positive energy and synergy within an organization and so the people will work for the cause and not just the check.


Get Out of the Weeds

Micro-managers often have the toughest time transitioning from management to leadership because they have a finely tuned and proven way to get things done. It’s a great quality but often overlooks new thinking and ideas because from the micro manager’s perfectionist’s perspective, her way is the only way. In a paper entitled Making the transition from Micromanager to Leader authors Robert F. Hurly PhD and James Ryman with their research make the point that 30 -35% of these types of executives fail to achieve leadership status and influence. They state: “For these executives the desire to be perfect drives them to over control people and events and prevents them from engaging in critical leadership behaviors such as empowering, trusting, inspiring and challenging others.” In the following chart they describe the qualities of the executives they researched.


You Can Quote Me

Seems that this subject of Leadership vs. Management has always been in the middles of so many business discussions and compelled many to say something on the subject. As an example we quote one of America’s famous leaders, Theodore Roosevelt who said: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” The chart below highlights what other writers, business people and teachers have to say on the subject: 


Final Thoughts

One final thought on this subject is that there is such a thing as a “born leader” but for those that are aspiring to lead and are still finding their way, the best advice I’ve uncovered in this exercise is that to become a leader you first have to admit that you don’t know it all. That admission and humility is what keeps the great leaders on an endless learning curve where their only guide is the vision they seek.