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Lead While You Manage
November 2010

In "The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management," Alan Murray discusses the differences between leadership and management based on the Warren Bennis book On Becoming a Leader. Leadership and management must go hand in hand. While not the same, they are linked and complementary. Still, much has been written on the differences. In his book, Bennis offered this list:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader's eye is on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

There probably was a time when the focus of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era factory probably didn't have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job was completed as ordered.

But in today's environment, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer interchangeable parts in a machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define a purpose for them. In turn, managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognize this truth. He identified the emergence of the "knowledge worker," and the impact on the way business was organized. With the rise of the knowledge worker, "One does not manage people," Drucker wrote. "The task is to lead people and the goal is to leverage the specific talents and knowledge of every individual."