Leadership versus Management

One of the first courses I took in graduate school was titled “Leadership and Managers: ‘E’er the Twain Shall Meet'”.  It was taught by Professor Jean Lipman-Blumen who challenged her students to attain levels of intellectual acuity we scarely dreamed was possible.

But I believe the title of her course contains the kernal of a debate that is worth revisiting on this, my very first blog post.  Is Leadership a different thing than Managment?  And, are the two compatible within the same person?

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman believe so.  In their book The Extraordinary Leader I recall reading an anecdotal passage wherein they note that some folks believe there may be a great manager out there but he doesn’t have any of the classic leadership qualities in him.  Zenger & Folkman write that they themselves have never met such a person, indicating they believe that great managers are generally great leaders, and vice versa.

Stephen R. Covey, my first boss out of college, talked often of the key differences between leadership and management.  I recall him saying that leadership is a top-line concern, focused on vision and direction, while managment was a bottom-line concern, focused on method and how we will most efficiently get to that mandated direction.

Is it possible to be effective at both leadership and management? Possible, certainly.  Common, hardly.  My own experience is that individuals who excel at leadership tend to be poor managers, and others who possess crisp management skills seem to flounder as leaders.  I sense that it’s tough to do both extremely well.

Just an observation.


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