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Leadership And Management: What Are We Talking About?
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Leadership And Management: What Are We Talking About?

Does an executive ever manage? Does a mid-level manager ever lead?

People often use the terms leadership and management interchangeably. Harvard Business School professor and author, John P. Kotter, says it well, “Leadership and management are different but complimentary.” The goal is to apply the right approach at the right time.


“Leadership” entails influencing people to follow to achieve a common goal. It is big picture-focused. It is often, but not exclusively, executed at the highest level of an organization. Leadership consists of:

• Setting Direction – Establishing the mission, vision, core values and strategies to get people moving in a specific direction.

• Aligning People – Communicating the mission, vision, core values and strategies, and allocating resources.

• Motivating People – Influencing people to achieve the mission and vision by executing the strategies.

• Assessing – Assessing results and making necessary adjustments.

“Management” entails executing tasks through other people. It is more narrowly-focused than leadership. It is commonly, but not exclusively, executed below the highest level of an organization. Management consists of:

• Planning – Establishing goals and tasks (i.e., plans) to achieve the strategies, inventorying resources, identifying process needs, and identifying potential risks.

• Organizing – Delegating responsibilities and dispersing resources.

• Executing – Directing people to implement plans, managing potential risks, measuring results, and making necessary adjustments.

• Scoring – Measuring, documenting and reporting results.

A subpart of management is “Project Management”, which involves making sure a project is executed as follows:

• Within scope (purpose and parameters),

• On time (commencement and completion), and

• Within budget (revenue, expense and profit).


Are leaders born or developed?

Leaders can be trained. Training is critical. But a person must be born with a core-level of talent to develop. As John C. Maxwell says in his book, “The Right to Lead”, “You must be someone others can trust to take them where they want to go.”

The core talents needed to be an effective leader include knowledge, skills and characteristics.

The knowledge and skills (i.e., technical abilities) can be developed through education, training and work experience. Those include:

• Communication

• Functional Knowledge (i.e., marketing, finance, operations, etc.)

• Analytical Thinking

• Strategic Thinking

• Problem-Solving

• Customer-Focus

• Team-Building

• Delegation

• Talent Development

• Change Management

• Cultural Competence

The characteristics (i.e., behavioral traits) of an effective leader can also be developed through education, training and work experience, but it is more difficult. Characteristics are difficult to both change and adopt, so a person may never strengthen unfamiliar characteristics enough to be a proficient leader. The characteristics include:

• Integrity

• Humility

• Self-Awareness

• Courage

• Resilience

• Intellectual Curiosity

• Dispassionate Empathy

• Versatility

• Decisiveness

• Intuition

• Candor

• Influence

• Results-Driven

• Collaborative

• Relationship-Oriented


Leaders have different styles, which range from “forceful” (i.e., command and control) – to – “enabling” (i.e., engage and inspire).

Are Jack Welch and Jerry Jones forceful leaders? Are Marissa Mayer and Kenneth Chenault enabling leaders?

In actuality, an effective leader must be capable of both styles and draw upon their core talents to execute the frameworks of leadership or management at the right times. This is undoubtedly an explanation for the success of the leaders mentioned above.

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