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(MANAGEMENT) 10 Simple Truths About Management and Leadership


While this may be one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written, it took me just as long as one of my 1000 word manifestos. It's taken me over 20 years to discover these "truths", so hopefully I've saved you some time

1. Management and leadership are not the same. Not all leaders are managers and not all managers are leaders. You can be good at one and lousy at the other, or you can be good or bad at both.

2. Managers plan and budget, organize and staff, control and solve problems, and produce predictability and order.*

3. Leaders establish direction, align people, motivate, inspire, mentor, and produce change.*
*Source: John Kotter, "What Leaders Really Do," Harvard Business Review.

4. While leadership and management are different, they are complementary and equally important. One is not "gooder" than the other.

5. Organizations need great leadership and great management or they will crash and burn. To what degree of each depends on the degree of change needed.

6. Given the amount of change most organizations are facing, the need for leadership has increased while the need for management remains constant. Many, if not most organizations are facing a leadership shortage.

7. Neither management nor leadership is a hereditary trait; they both need to be learned and developed over time. For most people, leadership tends to be harder and takes longer to develop.

8. While everyone has some potential to lead, some have more potential than others. Organizations need to cast a wide net to find these individuals and invest in their development.

9. Someone can be appointed a manager but you have to earn the title of leader. A manager can inherit or hire employees, while a leader has to "be elected" by followers to be their leader.

10. You can do management to manage, but you have to be a leader to lead. Management can be an 8-5 job, while leadership is transformational. There is no on-and-off switch.

Dan McCarthy has been in the field of leadership development for over 20 years. He is currently the Director of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore School of Business and Economics (WSBE).

Reach Dan by e-mail at
Dan's website is

(7/26/2012 5:04:48 PM)
Thanks for the terrific tome, Dan.
One area not covered includes my own claim - based on education and experience. That being: "Management" is terrified of "Leadership". The reason is, partially, about a hierarchy of values. Given the rock and hard-place scenario, most managers will choose Control over Affect. Nevertheless, Dan, this should not stop us from charging up the hill. (I'm right behind you.) :)

- Ronald T. Robinson

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