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Leadership Versus Series: Leadership vs Management

Leadership Versus Series: Leadership vs Management

This age-old discussion about leadership and management will never go away, nor should it. It is critical for leaders to know the difference between leadership and management and when to apply each. While management is necessary for all work settings, it differs from leading. 


Lower-Case “l” versus Upper-Case “L”


My friend Marty Strong (USN SEAL retired, CEO and author), in his book titled Be Nimble, and on my podcast, describes leadership with a lower-case l in contrast to leadership with a capital L. The small l, known as management, is monitoring preset conditions and parameters and implementing preapproved corrective actions in order to correct matters that are considered to be out of parameters. Managers have great technical competence. Leading people, on the other hand, requires a detailed understanding of the organizational goals and inspiring everyone on the team to pursue those goals with vigor. People want to be led, not managed, and certainly not micromanaged. 


As entrepreneurs, we start as the subject matter expert delivering the product or service while developing and refining the business plan as the company’s chief executive. Over time, we have to evolve our leadership by not delivering the product or service directly. Rather, we should enable others (by the way, enabling others is my definition of leadership) to directly interface with customers while we create the conditions for our teammates to be successful. 


It is critical that you lead, especially when a situation demands leadership. As indicated above, people are not machines. Those you lead have lives outside of the workplace. We all have wives, husbands, children, house payments, unexpected visits to the emergency room, unanticipated expenses, illness, death of loved ones, and on and on. In some cases, such as the death of a family member, this will most likely be a life-changing event. In my experience, particularly in the military, your ability to lead the person and the organization through this life-changing event is one of the hallmarks of leadership. 

The following is from a Forbes article:


9 Differences Between Being A Leader And A Manager (FORBES 2016)


Leaders create a vision, managers create goals

Leaders are change agents, managers maintain the status quo

Leaders take risks, managers control risk

Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.

Leaders are unique, managers copy

Leaders build relationships, managers build systems and processes.

Leaders coach, managers direct.

Leaders grow personally, managers rely on existing, proven skills

Leaders create fans, managers have employees


I define leadership in my terms and hold myself to account.  Those you lead will let you know if you are in the leadership zone and if you are not. Seek their feedback when you think it would be helpful. This will also contribute to the high culture, which is the magic within any organization.


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