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Leadership vs. Management

262745246_5a3f4882e3_mTo me, the two were always synonymous with one another. To be a good manager, you must be a good leader. To be a good leader, you must be a good manager.

I was completely wrong.

What I’ve learned is that just as there are different types of managers in a business, there are also different types of leaders. But unlike management, leadership doesn’t appear to be something that can be taught.

To date, I’ve identified these types of leaders in my life:

  • The Hoorah! Leader. This leader motivates people but tends to have limited vision and scope. When I say “scope”, I mean that the leader is only able to impact a few people. They may or may not be a good manager.
  • The Vision Leader. This leader motivates people using their strategic vision. They have big vision and can impact a lot of people–typically an entire team, however large that is. Where they tend to be weak is that may not be suited to ever working “in the trenches”. They tend to look for really good people to work under them to delegate out management.
  • The Heads Down Leader. This is that phenomenal employee that just gets the job done. The are an example to everybody around them in that they work both smart and hard and focus on the task in from of them. It’s more of an indirect leadership style in my opinion. They tend to not be good managers without significant training.

These are all innate abilities. I am not sure how you could teach somebody to be “visionary” or instill in somebody the drive to “get it done” as an example to the team as a Heads Down Leader. The Horrah! Leadership trait is very limited but works well in small teams–this leadership style can be learned, but my experience is that it comes across as “fake” if it’s not an innate character trait.

Management on the other hand can be trained. Assuming the person being trained can absorb it and modify their own behavior. And management is difficult. Management is more about “hearing cats”, whereas leadership is about pointing out where on the horizon we’re all walking the cats to.

Management really is a numbers game:

  • Who is on the team?
  • Do we have enough people on the team?
  • Too many?
  • Are we profitable or losing money?
  • Are the departments “hitting their numbers”?
  • Are the individual team members “hitting their numbers”?
  • If not, what is the response? Carrot or stick?
  • If people are exceeding their numbers, then what?
  • How do you train up great team members?

The list goes on!

As the CEO of a tightly focused IT firm, I have the challenge of being both a leader and a manager. My nature is to assume everybody is going to be a rockstar. I have to fight that nature often, look at the numbers, and then decide: Is this person a rockstar or a loss? If so, what did I do wrong in hiring? The same goes for a product rollout. Rockstar return or dud? If dud, what did I do wrong in pricing and specifying the product?

I’d love to hear how you split out leadership and management! My perspective is specific to me. Would love to hear your experience share. With over 2500 people on this newsletter, and roughly 40,000 hits a month across our entire blog, I often hear some interesting viewpoints. What is yours?

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