Leadership is a Both/And; Rarely an Either/Or

by  Jane Perdue  |  Leadership Development

I marvel at the amount of time spent:

  • Seeking to define leadership and management. Can we just do the work, focusing on people, principles and results; and not get hung up on labels?
  • Trying to prove that their list of leadership characters traits is the one and only. Can we agree that the list of worthy traits is long, that most are needed and that our time would be better spent leading than on creating a finite list that tomorrow’s business needs would change?
  • Espousing that one can only lay claim to being a leader if they have followers. Can we agree to disagree here and respect each other’s opinion?
  • Vehemently asserting that leadership is only measured by results? Again, can we agree to disagree and respect each other’s opinion?
  • Attempting to prove that managers do things right and that leaders do the right thing. Can we say that both managers and leaders do things right and do the right things?

Life is big and complicated and fun and challenging. So are those things we call leadership and management.

Rarely is life and/or leadership an either/or end game. It’s usually more of a both/and dance in which we balance opposing ends of an infinity loop. “Avoid the tyranny
of the OR and embrace the genius of the AND,” as Collins and Porras point out.

What do you think?

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About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Dan (Leadership Freak)  |  04 Oct 2010  |  Reply

Hi Jane,

I like to think of it as leaders manage and managers lead.

Thanks for all you do,


William Powell  |  04 Oct 2010  |  Reply

I love the brevity and sass in your post Jane!

You are so right. So many people are jockeying for position of leader that they become argumentative as a means to position themselves as unique. Great for marketing, bad for leadership.

I have to wonder if this type of interplay among leaders is common enough for you to write a post about it here, then is it a wonder we struggle with helping those we lead with conflict resolution (based on the example being set by leadership “experts”)?

Thanks for pointing out the 800 lb. gorilla.


Steve Petzer  |  05 Oct 2010  |  Reply

Hi Jane,

Sounds like you’ve been reading books by Dr. Ed Delph (Church @ Community). I did and I found it very good, it certainly placed many things in perspective when it comes to the attitude with which we approach community transformation. A must read for anyone that is serious about leading change.

Sharon Eden  |  05 Oct 2010  |  Reply

Superbly put, Jane!

Am ‘leadershiped out’ by the many management
gurus who got on the band wagon and those who
attempt to research the definitive leadership


Jane Perdue  |  06 Oct 2010  |  Reply

Dan – you are so right: to be effective one must BOTH lead AND manage!

William — from my perspective, that 800# gorilla is alive and well…and growing. Your apt observation about conflict resolution gets to the heart of the matter. Whether it’s leadership or some other arena, so much effort is expended in proving that “I’m right and you are wrong.” Polarization breeds paralysis and prejudice. What’s needed is tolerance, resilience and a desire to work together to create results and make a positive difference. …stepping down from my soap box now! :)

Steve — I’m not familiar with Dr. Delph’s work. My source of inspiration has been Barry Johnson and his work on polarity management. Thanks for sharing!

Sharon – Delighted to have you in the both/and corner!

Grins and gratitude to all for sharing your good insights!

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