are you a leader or a manager?

Leadership_3 To lead people, walk beside them …
As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.
The next best, the people honor and praise.
The next, the people fear;
and the next, the people hate …
When the best leader’s work is done the people say,
                                 "We did it ourselves!"

                                                  – Lao-tsu

I am fascinated by the subject of leadership and the nuances between management and leadership.  Many of my clients are in management positions or, as entrepreneurs, are leading their own organizations,  As a West Pointer, I have studied much on the subject of leadership and am still enthralled when we in Corporate America confuse leadership and management.  Are you a manager or leader? Leaders manage but rarely do managers lead.  If you are a manager and concerned about whether you can transition into a leader, never fear.  While some are born with innate leadership qualities, leadership can also be learned.  According to the work of Bernard Bass, there are three basic theories to explain how people become leaders.  The first two apply only to a small minority.  These theories are:

  • Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory.
  • A crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person. This is the Great Events Theory.
  • People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational Leadership Theory and is the most widely accepted theory today.

In future posts, we’ll continue to look at the topic of leadership.  In the meantime, I invite you to visit Leadership Now – a great blog I came across that is dedicated to leadership and providing resources to develop leadership skills and understanding the leadership issues we face today.

YES, you can!

2 Responses to “are you a leader or a manager?”

  1. I am also fascinated by the confusion between leadership and management. The most prominent university textbook, Leadership in Organizations, by Gary Yukl, explicitly states that they are one and the same concept.
    Many who differentiate leadership from management give leadership the good guy role – being people focused, etc, while management gets the bad guy role – being theory X, controlling, mechanistic. For me this is a throw-back to the 1970s when commentators wanted to ditch management in favor of leadership. They needed a scapegoat to blame for US failure to compete against the Japanese.
    The truth, as I see it, is that we really just needed to upgrade management. A totally functional definition of leadership and management says that the former promotes new directions while the latter executes them. A functional differentiation is not new. We do the same with sales and marketing. But a functional view leaves style issues completely open, hence we can say that inspiring leaders move us to change direction while inspiring managers motivate us to work harder.
    For more on these views, visit my website:

  2. Coach V says:

    Thanks for your wonderful insight and perspective on management and leadership. Great food for thought!