Leaders and Managers

In Board Development, Evaluations, Strategic Planning by Geoff BurnsLeave a Comment

Much has been written on the subject of leaders vs. managers. It is likely that what you are reading today is nothing new, but hopefully you can take the information and glean something new for your organization to help improve your role in leadership (or management).

It is often said that “leaders have people that follow them, but managers have people that work for them.” I would cite the quote, but there are so many variations that it is near impossible to know who originally said it. What is understood is that both roles are needed. Especially in large organizations, there will always be a need for quality managers. Likewise, there will always be a need for quality leaders. The best CEO’s are leaders who can manage. Too much management, and the team becomes uninspired. Too much vision without structure, and the process becomes disorganized.

Another image often used is the idea that leaders pull the group along while managers push. This imagery is often used to show how leadership is more about teamwork and management is about completing tasks. The reality is that they go hand in hand.

I won’t pretend to act like I know anything about Steve Jobs, but I can say that for the visionary he was, there were still deadlines to be met, sales quotas to meet and bills to pay. If there were no deadlines, apple would still be researching and developing the “perfect” device. Instead, with obligations to fulfill, there are many versions of the iPad, iPod, iPhone and iWidgettobereleased. Business methods and Steve Jobs commentary aside, it took both leadership and management to achieve the results now associated with Apple.

In the end, it is the responsibility of the leadership to show vision, to pull the team forward around a common goal and to encourage new ideas. It is the management’s job to make sure that the tangible items are addressed and that the deadlines are met and that the vision of the leadership is implemented. The combined skills and talents of the entire team is what provides a path to success.

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