LeaderLab Resource – Lead(or) Manage

by  Mike Henry  |  Resources

I recently had the opportunity to write a short post for an publication edited by David Burkus of LeaderLab titled Lead(or) Manage.  The topic is the dreaded Leaders vs. Managers discussion.  As David said in the introduction to the document, Warren Bennis started this discussion by stating,  “Managers do things right; Leaders do the right thing.”

Eighteen great authors and I contributed to the paper.  Spend a little time reading the entire document.  There are insights from several Lead Change members including Burkus, Shawn Murphy, Jane Perdue, Nicole De Falco, & Mike Myatt.  There are other well-known leadership authors involved, such as David Zinger and Marshall Goldsmith.  Many articles were by people I had not read before but their articles were engaging, informative and well thought out.  In all the paper is a great experience.

Management is a noble pursuit, however.  The existence of an argument seems to imply that it’s not.  Lately many in the leadership world use the term as Bennis did, to emphasize the control, task oriented side of leadership. That’s not very fortunate.  Maybe this is more of a continuum than an either-or argument.

Anyway, rather than let me make up your mind, check out the paper over at LeaderLab.  Then, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the issue as well.  Are the two things exclusive?  Or must they coexist?

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  18 Apr 2010  |  Reply

Hi , Mike

Well, I almost stopped reading when I saw “Leader s vs. Managers” in the first paragraph:).

This subject has been beat to death with no end in sight, since it apparently fascinates many who care about how people work. My personal observation would be that we are using the wrong words: “leader” and “manager’ are nouns and indicate things. I prefer “leading” and “managing”, which are verbs which indicate actions. I can lead and I can manage – what I do in a specific instance depends on the situation and the needs of those for whom I am responsible.

Appreciate your defense of the term “management”. You are correct that some tend to use this to convey a less-than-desired state. If you examine most examples of good leadership, you will see a network of good management supporting those activities.

.-= John E. Smith´s last blog ..In my Mind, I Dance . . . =-.

Mike Henry Sr.  |  18 Apr 2010  |  Reply

John, thanks for the reply. I tire of the argument too because it seems to be ingrained in us to argue about such things. We are arguing about behaviors but using labels to make the distinction.


Tom Schulte  |  18 Apr 2010  |  Reply

Hi Mike,

Thank you for posting this! I love the collaborative approach you talk about on the subject.

I believe that an effective person must be able to both manage and lead. One must manage things, situations, and processes, but must lead people. (Personally, I have a hard enough time just managing myself, so why would I dare try to manage others? It is more effective to have people manage themselves.)

A great quote I heard yesterday from Mike Schinkel is “I prefer to lead well-managed people!”

In case you are interested, here is a free slideshow that one can view, download, and share on the subject of Management vs. Leadership. it has 162 global professionals weighing in on the subject with short quotes: http://linked2leadership.com/2008/10/06/management-vs-leadership/

Keep up the great posts!

Tom Schulte
Atlanta, GA USA

Juan  |  18 Apr 2010  |  Reply

Great post – Basically both attributes coexist and are much needed.
Rather that defining Leadership ; I want to focus on what a Leader does.
To be a Leader your have to lead, to have a vision, to see long term, to become egoless, forget about you and more importantly to develop others.
How do you become a Leader, you have to a Manager, to lead you have to manage, to get things done, to teach others to develop others.
What is a Leader – A person that leads others and develops others into leaders, and also teaches (manages) others the how-to develop others into leaders. A Leader creates a leadership factory.

Mike Myatt  |  19 Apr 2010  |  Reply

Hi Mike:

While I’ll always to defer to leadership as being more valuable than management when evaluated in a vacuum, business does not occur in a vacuum. I actually created this short video to debunk the “either/or” debate. Hope you enjoy it…

.-= Mike Myatt´s last blog ..The Key to Growth =-.

davidburkus  |  21 Apr 2010  |  Reply


Thanks for contributing and for help promoting it.

Also Mike Myatt, love the video.

Richard  |  21 Apr 2010  |  Reply

Very interesting, it is certainly an argument that seems to cease but the combination of leading and managing seems to offer the optimum result. In times of organizational change this is proven as strong leadership is required to drive through changes which might not be popular to all or seem difficult but the process needs to be well managed to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible

Join The Conversation