Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Either/Or distinctions can be very misleading. In so many cases, we are dealing with Both/And. Some examples:
  1. You are not either a manager or an employee. You are both a manager and an employee.
  2. You are not either a leader or a manager. You are both a leader and a manager.
  3. You may not be either part of the problem or part of the solution. You may be both part of the problem and part of the solution. Or you may be neither.

It is tempting to accord a quick label, but human endeavors are mixtures of good and bad motives, great and not-so-great activities, and elements of spirit that may fall in-between. This does not prevent us from accurately judging actions as good or bad. There are times when Either/Or applies. Understanding a wider range of alternatives, however, can help us choose the best one and have a clearer picture of reality.


GeekChic said...

Actually, I've met plenty of managers who are not leaders by any definition. "Manager" is a title. "Leader" is a character quality and a descriptor.

Dan Richwine said...

A freind of mine puts it this way: Leaders lead people. Managers manage processes.

IMHO, managing is more of a skill and leadership is more of a talent. Though anyone can learn to be better in either, leadership at the end of the day cannot be taught in the same way managing is.

Michael Wade said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

I like Peter Drucker's description that managers do things right and leaders do the right thing.

I think it is most helpful to regard leadership and management as responsibilities that come with any job; indeed, the lowest-ranking person in the organization may have to lead on occasion.

Since they are responsibilities, it means that someone can be a poor leader and/or a poor manager or very good at one and not at the other.

I agree that leadership is much harder to teach than management. The best leadership training includes a heavy amount of actual leading with regular reviews of lessons learned. Only a small amount can be taught in a classroom.