Leadership v Management – Who Gives A …?

Time to Read – 2 + 3 minutes

(This week’s NL Week is taken from my rejected article for Training Journal. – See Clipboard.)

Your CEO Doesn’t

And neither should you. Unless of course you have a lot of time on your hands right now, AND all of the strengths of all of your people have been unlocked and are on open display each and every day, AND you have found a direct link between the “answer” to this question and your company’s financial bottom line.

Oh the irony! For if you have indeed achieved those three things, you would never even dream of addressing the management v leadership issue in the first place, as you will have already taken your place as a Learning and Development (L and D) business professional at the very heart of your organisation, where you belong.

While the rest of our inwardly focused, jargon full, up itself “industry” attend yet another “L and D and The Business – Bridging the Divide” event, and spend the whole time complaining how unfair it is that they never get invited to have a real say in their organisation’s future.

Sadly, this applies to every type of company, across every sector. So, if you have tears, then prepare to shed them now.


Happily, it does not hae to be like this. So, if you have ambition, then please stand up, your time has come.

Your time is now – right now, and comes down to how you answer that question – leadership or management, which is more important.

A or B?

A: On an A4 piece of paper, draw a vertical line down the centre – on the left hand side, write the heading “Leadership” and on the right hand side, write the heading “Management.”

Now, on the left hand side write down the top five skills you associate with the word “leadership.”

And, on the right hand side write down the top five skills you associate with the word “management.”

And then sit back and look at the paper, well pleased.

Or, B: Get off your backside and do something that takes you, someone else, your team or your organisation closer to where you need to go.

By the way, If you did A, just so you know, whatever you wrote will be correct.

Well done.

Now, go do B.

You do not exist to talk action – you exist to take action, and help others to do the same. End of.

End of all this HR driven drivel around what means what to who and why it matters. It doesn’t – what matters is that your organisation brings in more cash than it spends.

Tesco don’t sit around debating these boring, irrelevant issues, and look how successful they are. They know who their “leaders” are – their customers, people working at the tills, people running their stores.

Martina Milburn, CEO of The Princes Trust, doesn’t spend hours pondering whether she is a leader or a manager; she just gets on with her job of helping more young people in a very challenging economic environment.

It doesn’t matter whether you call yourself a manager or a leader, or a big garden gnome, the big question is this – if you were stripped of your title, your traits and status of office, could you still get the very best out of other people?

That is the question to ask.

Questions that do not add real, measurable value to the bottom line of your organisation should not even be asked, and as so many of these questions are to do with L and D, it is not so much your responsibility to ensure they are bypassed and ignored, it is your professional duty.

So, park the question on leadership v management inside the folder marked “recycling,” and turn to your next in-tray item.

Next Part – “Are leaders born or made?”

With my love to you all

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  • Crikey. That’s hard hitting. I will go along with the theory that talking about something means absolutely nothing. Doing it is the real way forward.

  • I once DID write down leadership and management headings and did write down what I thought were key elements. I never did get round to actioning any of them. I guess that proves your point David.

  • i am a habitual list make and rarely do i do things on it.
    Eventually, the things end up being done before you get to cross them off the list so it was always a pointless exercise.

  • Leadership and management are not necessarily the same thing as i once found to my cost.
    You can have one without the other for sure.

  • management include leadership so the two are intertwined. It stands to reason that one goes with the other so in my opinion there isn’t really a need to ditch one or the other.

  • The two can be separate too.
    That is what the article/debate is about.

  • You are right David. My CEO doesn’t give a ….

  • Not giving a ….in companies appears to be the way of the world.
    They talk about things they need to be doing and they tick all the legal boxes but mainly it is going through the motions and not anything to do with the staff. It is hardly ever in the staff’s benefit.

  • A lot of people spend hours pondering. Then they ponder some more about an issue that can be dealt with if they just get on and do it.
    I have called someone a garden gnome at work actually. that’s why i didn’t last too long there and went out on my own as a freelance.

  • People in authority even give appraisals without really knowing what you do. they sit in different rooms or on separate floors and are expected to understand what you do which can only be guesswork.
    CEO’s are not great at mixing with people, real people, on the ground floor, and yet they were on that level once and should remember where they came from.

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