Managing vs. Leading PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 08 September 2008 00:00
The distinction between these two concepts has to be one of the things that really gets me most fired up. It never ceases to amaze me how many people simply don’t get the differences in meaning between the two and as a result end up destroying the teams in which they work.

Managing Things

People often talk about managing processes, projects, or budgets. The important thing to note here is that the words are about things that have fixed measurable outcomes. And it is here that ineffective managers go awry. While processes, projects, and budgets are inanimate things, they are delivered or executed by living breathing people. The ineffective manager will focus solely on the number at the end and also treat people as cogs in the machine to generate the desired result. The end is ultimately achieved but at a high cost, losing the respect and commitment of those who made it possible.

Managing People

What these ineffective managers don’t realize is that the verb ‘manage’ stems from the latin root manus which means hand or help. Thus managing people literally means helping them to get things done. This is why you hear successful business people talking about their jobs being about serving their employees, who in turn service the needs of customers. One of the more famous exponents of this view is Sir Richard Branson who draw’s the Virgin group’s organizational chart as an inverted pyramid with himself at the pyramid’s apex on the bottom of the page.


Which finally brings us to leadership.  It’s one thing to manage people effectively to achieve a result, but it is another to lead them. The difference? A manager will help people get the job done, but a leader will go the extra step to inspire and empower them to build and exercise their own judgment so that they will ultimately become effective managers and leaders themselves. It is this focus on growing the skills, talent, and experience base of others so that become more effective that sets leaders apart from managers.

Great Leadership

Looking more closely the more astute reader will note that the leader’s focus on growing others is not something that need be restricted to those who are in management roles. Leadership can be expressed by anyone within a team regardless or role or title. And it is this last point that separates the truly great leader from the rest of the pack…. they show a willingness and are genuinely comfortable in letting their direct reports lead as part of the growth process.
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written by Patrick Driessen, August 27, 2009
Hi Roger,

I really like your compelling and remarkable website! A common Sydney based (Irish) friend tipped me!

Great and inspiring story your wrote about management vs. leadership.
Based on some of my own experiences and lessons learned, I wrote a comparison about managers vs. leaders. It's mainly based on a sad real-life case in which leaders turned themselves into managers with very poor outcomes.... Must sound familiar!
Please have a read on my 'Helping You Succeed!' blog: http://patrickdriessen.blogspo...aders.html

Keep on leading the way up!

Warm regards & success,

Patrick smilies/wink.gif
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 18:51