Leadership vs management

September 06, 2014

Leadership vs management

A few weeks ago, leadership guru, author and teacher Warren Bennis died. I read many of his books and articles on leadership and admired his thinking greatly. Some say he “invented leadership as a business idea.”  The Economist wrote a piece about Bennis’ ideas on the distinctions between management and leadership and I thought I would copy and paste it here as a reminder of what it takes to be a leader. The quote from Bennis at the end of the two paragraphs below sums it up for me — to be a leader is to be a fully integrated human being. It truly takes an understanding that goes beyond bottom lines and focus on the short-term to earn a reputation as a leader. 

“Central to his thinking was a distinction between managers and leaders. Managers are people who like to do things right, he argued. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon. Managers help you to get to where you want to go. Leaders tell you what it is you want. He chastised business schools for focusing on the first at the expense of the second. People took MBAs, he said, not because they wanted to be middle managers but because they wanted to be chief executives. He argued that “failing organisations are usually over-managed and under-led”.

Mr Bennis believed leaders are made, not born. He taught that leadership is a skill—or, rather, a set of skills—that can be learned through hard work. He likened it to a performance. Leaders must inhabit their roles, as actors do. This means more than just learning to see yourself as others see you, though that matters, too. It means self-discovery. “The process of becoming a leader is similar, if not identical, to becoming a fully integrated human being,” he said in 2009.”

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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