Can You Manage Leadership?

ARE you a people or systems driven person? Do you do the right thing or do you focus your energies on making sure things are done right? And do you originate your own ideas, or simply implement others?

Whether or not you are a leader, or simply a good manager, depends on your answers to those questions. Who says so? Well, Charles Helliwell, a behavioural analyst & mentor, and founder and publisher of Business Personality Audits ( believes there is a distinction between the two.

Like all good subjects there are differing viewpoints. Our very own David Taylor often says it makes no difference. Your definition is what counts, as long as you are taking taking action and going in the right direction to achieve your goals. So, what do you think? Please read Charles’ thoughts and respond via a comment on the website or by emailing me, Clive Barrett, at

Here is what Charles has to say:

“Too many people still confuse strong leadership with good management and vice versa. So I thought I would provide some simple and straightforward examples of both to enable individuals to determine their own individual preferences.

“There are many and varied distinctions between leadership and management; too many to mention. The most successful executives are those who understand those distinctions and manage to blend them in such a way to suit their own characters and personalities. Rather than list and debate the numerous and varied definitions of each, I’ve taken four which I believe are the key ingredients to successful management.

1. Leaders focus on people, whilst managers focus on systems.
2. Leaders do the right thing, whilst managers do things right.
3. Leaders inspire trust, whilst managers rely on controls.
4. Leaders originate, whilst managers imitate.
“So, are you a good manager; an inspirational leader or a little bit of both? We can all cite examples of strong leaders, but how many of us can do the same for good managers?

“Leaders and managers don’t necessarily come out of the same bucket, and yet in business and commerce it is often taken for granted that good leaders and strong managers are one and the same. Did Alexander The Great develop and execute successful military campaigns which are still considered mandatory reading by the military strategists of today, by concentrating on systems, imitating others and doing things right? Did Ernest Shackleton give considered thought to his chances of survival in sailing 800 miles in an open boat in the Southern Ocean, from Elephant Island to South Georgia?

“In 1945, Winston Churchill was beaten comprehensively by Clement Atlee in the UK general election because the country wanted a strong manager, not an inspirational leader. And what was it that drove Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to pursue similar goals which, at the time, were deemed impossible to achieve?

“If these men are considered among the greatest leaders of our time, then what makes them so and do they also qualify as good managers? I suspect that the answer is probably not, because inspiration and originality and organisation and planning are strange bedfellows.

“For example, Alexander’s legacy was not the longevity of his empire he created, but the cultural influences which remain to this day as a result of his conquests. It is extremely doubtful that he actually planned for this. If Ernest Shackleton had been a better planner and organiser, would the Endurance have been crushed in the ice and the survivors stranded, prompting his heroic rescue? Probably not.

“Had Winston Churchill, an inspirational but disorganised leader, not replaced Neville Chamberlain, a capable manager and skilled organiser, at the start of the World War II, would Britain have been defeated by Germany? And what of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela? Did either of them conclude that campaigns of violence and terrorism would have been less successful than the campaigns of non-cooperation and non-violence they opted for? And was this inspired and original thinking, executed with organisation and planning, or was this just a case of doing the right thing at the right time?

“The answer, I suspect, is that it is a little bit of both. Being a good leader isn’t something that you take out of a textbook or a training manual. Becoming a good leader, in whatever circumstances, is ingrained within us, should we choose to look for it and release it.

“It’s just that, more often than not, our masters would prefer us to act more as capable managers than inspirational leaders, because leaders are apt to behave in a less predictable manner than managers.

“Managers, after all, are there to manage. They are the captains. It’s their job to get you from A to B, safely and securely, which is why perhaps that it’s often easier to recognise, assess and evaluate those who manage versus those who lead. As Paul Birch, in his book ‘Instant Leadership’ suggests, managers concern themselves with tangible tasks, while leaders concern themselves with intangible people.

“And yet, as we enter yet more turbulent and uncertain times, history will again prove that people everywhere will look towards those who lead, as opposed to those who manage, for their own inspiration.”

Thanks for those powerful points, Charles. So, who agrees? Does anyone disagree? Let us know your thoughts.

And if you want to see David in action why not get to one of his next leadership workshops (


  • Chris

    'Would Britain have been defeated by Germany?'They've been doing so ever since!Bring back Alf Ramsay as England boss!

  • Paul Charlton

    I manage and lead. whether I do it successfully is not for me to say. But I do both. I can see there is a slight differential. I have to make decisions as a leader and make sure they are carried out which becomes the management side of it.At no stage do I try and be one or the other. I think I am generally both.

  • Clive Barrett

    When you mention captains, that reminds me of the mind. The conscious mind and the unconscious mind. The captain is the conscious mind, he is the leader. He makes the decisions and the unconscious mind, the crew, follow suit. But whose to say the captain can't manage too. Although I guess you have managers manage and captains play, so it's a slightly different analogy.I allow my captain to make the decisions and then the crew get on with fulfilling the tasks. The difficulty comes when the captain interferes with the crew carrying out the instructions. That can cause mutiny. Thanks to Tony Westwood, who wrote Naked Leader Golf, for this.

  • Clive Barrett

    Re my last post. That should read who's to say, not whose to say, with a question mark after the word too! Think before you type is the lesson here!

  • Mary Hull

    I think there is very little between management and leadership. The circumstances Charles mentions are just that, circumstances. I accept that you have to be a leader to come up with ideas and be the strategist. Managers have to do that also. It's part of being a manager to come up with leadership skills so the two are veryu much interlinked I feel. Sometimes there are cases of leaders who might not be excellent managers but I prefer someone who can get his own hands dirty and practice what he/she preaches.That way they get to earn a great deal more respect in my view.

  • Chris Everton

    Leaders van be managers and managers can be the ones who show great leadership.The two are intertwined although not technically the same.I would prefer to be inspired by a leader. Preferably one that managed well!

  • Paul

    I agree Chris. the two are interlinked and it's difficult to say there's one and there's another.

  • I think you can lead without managing. It’s a different ball game in my eyes. Leading by example doesn’t always go along with the managing process which can be a more hands on task.

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