Leadership Versus Management

by Tom Henschel

Juliette was being groomed for a promotion. Juliette was proud that she was recognized as a powerful manager of people, but to get this promotion she was going to display that mysterious thing called ‘leadership.’ The primary goal of her coaching was to “elevate her leadership” and she was grateful for the help.

Over many months, Juliette and I explored our ideas about the difference between management and leadership. And, she wondered, was it possible to speak differently as one or the other? 

She ended up building this list:

MANAGEMENT

Purpose: Direct complexity

Core concept: Management is about helping people see how their work fits into the larger picture.

Essential skills:

  • Staffing
  • Budgeting
  • Controlling
  • Measuring
  • Problem-solving

LEADERSHIP 

Purpose: Guide change, which is constant.

Core concept: Leadership isn’t about what people do, it’s about what people feel.

Essential skills: 

  • Motivating
  • Aligning
  • Recognizing patterns
  • Creating vision and strategies

Between those two columns was a third column they both needed to share to succeed:

RELATIONSHIPS

Essential qualities:

  • Strong, positive networks
  • Influence
  • Persuasion skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Ability to give direct, compassionate feedback

Also focused on action and results, Juliette wanted to know how managers and leaders sound different. She built this list of skills:    

TO SOUND LIKE A LEADER, PEOPLE MUST BE GOOD AT: 

  • Storytelling 
  • Metaphor
  • Appreciation
  • Articulating a clear vision
  • Asking open-ended questions, then being silent

TO SOUND LIKE A MANAGER, PEOPLE MUST BE GOOD AT:

  • Guiding conversations
  • Setting boundaries
  • Remaining calm under pressure
  • Speaking with clarity and specificity
  • Asking precise questions, most often close-ended

Juliette wisely picked just two items off that list to focus on. The items were: 1) turning data into stories, and 2) asking open-ended questions, then listening for long stretches. She liked that way of communicating. And, within the year, she got her promotion!