Tag: strategic

11/20/11 “Leadership”

Good day, team.

I’m often asked by clients what the difference is between managing and leading others. There’s an assumption that people who manage others are automatically leaders. However, if we look at the definition of the words, we see that they are actually quite different. A simple definition of “lead” is “to go before or with to show the way.” The definition of “manage” is “to bring about or succeed in accomplishing something.”

In doing research about the differences between managers and leaders, I’ve found lots of information about how to become a good manager. But when it comes to defining great leaders, the information is less about what they do and more about who they are and how they impact others. As one of my clients said, “Good managers get it done. Great leaders inspire others to get it done.” Indeed, all the great leaders I’ve known inspire and motivate people. But there’s still much more to being a great leader.

Here’s my description of what leaders do:

Great leaders move people and events forward. They inspire others to commit and engage. They reflect their personal passion for achieving the best for themselves and everyone around them. They are not afraid to be vulnerable and courageous at the same time. Their presence is powerful because it is authentic. Wisdom, compassion and making a positive difference in the lives of others becomes their legacy. Here are the four essential practices of leaders:

Shape Strategic Thinking
Inspire a sense of purpose and direction
Focus strategically — on the big picture
Harness information and opportunities
Show judgment, intelligence and common sense

Cultivate Productive Relationships
Nurture internal and external relationships
Facilitate cooperation and partnerships
Value individual differences and diversity
Guide, mentor and develop people
Listen, understand and adapt to your audience

Engage and Align
Build organizational capability and responsiveness
Steer and implement change, and deal with uncertainty
Build on and champion individual and collective expertise
Ensure closure and deliver on intended results

Lead by Example
Do what you say; say what you do
Engage with risk and show personal courage
Commit to action and display resilience
Tell the truth and communicate with clarity
Demonstrate self awareness and a commitment to personal development

If you are in a leadership position, your challenge this week is to ask yourself which parts of this description align with how you lead and which parts do you ignore. Perhaps you already do what you say and say what you do, but you have trouble engaging in risk and showing personal courage. Maybe you enjoy mentoring others but have trouble cultivating external relationships. Be honest with yourself when you do your assessment.

If you aren’t currently in a leadership role but aspire to becoming more of a leader, take a look at the description to see what you might need to cultivate in yourself. Consider the differences between managing and leading, and think about these roles in terms of your own strengths and capabilities.

Perhaps your working as an individual contributor. Think about what kind of person you would wish to follow as your leader. Do they exhibit the kinds of characteristics mentioned above? Who would you want to lead your team, your project, your country?

In closing, here are two of my favorite quotes about managing and leading:

“Management is getting work done through others. Leadership is taking people where they haven’t been but need to go.” — Don Roberts, Human Capital Advisory Services, Deloitte and Touche

“Management is the delusion that you can change people. Leadership is deluding other people instead of deluding yourself.” — Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

Have a good week,


PLEASE NOTE: The coach will be on vacation from 11/24 to 12/3. The next challenge will be published on Dec. 4, 2011. Happy Thanksgiving!