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These goals are always going to be different for every individual therefore it is pointless to try and direct human productivity on a macro scale people have identities and goals that are too diverse.

Allan Topher

The most effective leader I ever worked with was also the most effective manager I ever worked with.

The most useful dichotomy between managers and leaders that I've found is in Marcus Buckingham's "The One Thing You Need to Know".

I see the two concepts as modes of operation: you lead when you need to and manage when the situation calls for management.

Striving to be one without the other ultimately creates a competence gap that could be career-limiting in the long run.

Bob R.

This seems to me to be a "Golden Mean" issue. As with many things, it's a balance between 2 important concepts, both of which are essential. Focusing too much on one or the other, leads you astray. Reminds me of a comment from a finance professor I had that it's not margin or mission, but a balance between the two. It's when organizations focus on one to the exclusion of the other that bad things happen and they get into trouble.


Easily the most important part of this piece, Bob, is the final sentence.

"Both [leadership and management] are equally essential, and if there isn't a connection between the two, you are in big trouble!"

As has been mentioned already in these comments, there is an ebb and flow in what is required, the mix of leadership (inspiration) and management (perspiration) which best matches the in-the-moment need of the entity which is being managed and led.

The bottom line, though, is that within the synergy of the two is the magic. That's what that last sentence says to me, and I agree!



I think the difference between leadership and management is a false one; it's one of those topics that academics can debate endlessly but has little meaning for practitioners. After all, what leader doesn't have things to "accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for", and what manager doesn't have to influence, guide or direct?

The difference between leadership and management is bound up with the difference between strategy and execution: leaders strategize and managers execute. That's where I think the danger in separating leadership and management lies--a strategy that can't be implemented is simply a failure. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I struggle with the concept of a brilliant strategy that failed because it was poorly executed. A strategy that doesn't take implementation into account is merely a bad strategy.

Wes Balda

This statement was problematic for Drucker. Rick Wartzman asked Warren Bennis about the quote, because it doesn't show up anywhere in Drucker's writings. Bennis said he thought Drucker had said it but wasn't sure. More likely someone confused Drucker's statement about effectiveness as doing the right things and efficiency as doing things right. He said emphatically that leadership was a dimension of management on several occasions. See

Ron Gentile

Good topic.

There are times in a company's life when it may need more management than leadership and vice versa based on where it is on the growth curve. Too much of one and not enough of the other can stall the company.

Companies generally need both, but they don't have to necessarily come from one person. E.g. I worked at Adobe for several years. John Warnock provided the leadership and his co-founder Chuck Geschke provided the management.

Munjal Dave

Interesting observations, Bob. I would argue that distinction between leadership and management has turned quite pernicious and at times quite misguided. for example, one of my former employers had a corporate wide motto - 'everyone is a leader'! Intent of that statement is interesting and aspirational. But the company tried to implement idea in operations and thereby creating quite a bit of confusion! oh yes, they never defined what leadership meant.

Looking forward to reading your new book. Is is going to be published as a downloadable audiobook?

Bob Sutton

Bret, as usual, you are forcing me to think. Yes, I guess I like the idea too as an idea. What I am complaining about, or at least trying to, is how it sometimes is translated beyond the original intent -- in a nearly Tayloristic way where the leaders have the big brains and little muscles and the managers have the little brains and big muscles. As you imply, however, reading Bennis at his best is a joy, and he is one of the most charming people I have ever met.

Bret Simmons

Bob, you have also written that "to do the right thing, a leader has to know what it takes to do things right". I like that. I've personally never had a problem with the Bennis thoughts on leadership, in fact, I love it. I've always seen leadership and management as roles or competencies, both of which are requisite. Thanks!

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