Leading v. Managing: to Lead or to Manage … those are not the questions
polarity debates have evolved over time. In particular, what is the difference
between leading and managing? Are they polar extremes on the same continuum, or
are they two axes that intersect? Is there indeed a dichotomy? Are leadership
and management mutually exclusively? Is it a matter of “either or,” or could it
be “both and?”
In Leaders, Warren Bennis
and Burt Nanus assert, “There is a profound difference between management and
leadership, and both are important” (Bennis and Nanus, 20).
They sum up the crucial distinction as: “Managers
are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.
The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment – effectiveness – versus activities of mastering
routines – efficiency.”
The Bass Handbook of Leadership,
edited by Bernard M. Bass, addresses with the concepts of leadership. It states
that the “concepts of leadership, headship, and management need to be
distinguished from each other although the same person may be a department head
and a leader of his or her department” (Bass, 23). In
its discourse on managerial work, it posits that there is an overlap between leading
and managing which is perceived when “one considers the human factor and the interpersonal
activities involved in managing and leading” (Bass, 652). However, the handbook
indicates that there is “a line of reasoning that draws a sharp distinction
between leadership and management … [l]eaders are more transformational;
managers are more transactional … Leaders do the more correct things; managers
do things correctly” (Bass, 653).
In Managing Polarities in Congregations,
Roy M. Oswald and Barry Johnson assert that “[t]here is a major difference
between management and leadership.” They continue, “[w]e hope those in
responsible roles within a congregation will possess the skills to do both,
though it is rare that any individual is equally competent in these two arenas”
(Oswald and Johnson, 75). They
conclude that “Managing AND Leading are
both essential to a thriving congregation” (p. 88).
In Simply Managing, Henry
Mintzberg suggests that “[i]nstead of distinguishing leaders from managers, we
should be seeing managers as leaders,
and leadership as management practiced well.”
The bottom line
is that albeit leading and managing are not synonymous, but they do need to be
synergistic. It is not a matter of division, leading/managing, but one of union, leading+managing,
that results in multiplication, leading*managing. It is time to resolve the disconnect
that has led to organizations, both in the secular world and in the sacred
sanctum of the church, where they are either overmanaged and underled, or overled
and undermanaged (Mintzberg 7).
There needs to be a balance of both leading and managing.
The Center for Leadership Studies
has promulgated the Situational Leadership® Model, developed by Dr. Paul Hersey fifty
years ago. It is a framework to remind those in leadership roles to match their
behaviours with the needs of those whom they influence. The Center’s DACA model addresses the
diagnosis of the individuals’ readiness
to perform the task, then to adapt
the leaders’ behaviours to relate to those individuals and the tasks to be
assigned to them, and to communicate accordingly
to them with the goal of advancing toward
Over the same
period, Dr. Ken Blanchard and collaborators have proffered thought leadership
regarding leading and managing people. They have released a series of “the One
Minute Manager” books that connect leadership and management. The Ken
Blanchard Companies believes that “great managers aren’t born, they’re
trained,” and has been promulgating the Situational Leadership®
II (SLII) model. The SLII model also addresses the
leader’s behaviours, whether to use a directive (task) or a supportive (people)
approach, based on the development level of those whom they lead.
Back in 1970, Robert
K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leadership” in his essay, “The Servant as
Leader.” Then in 1977, Greenleaf shared his insight through his book Servant Leadership. Two
decades later, Greenleaf published The Power of Servant Leadership.
The notion of the servant-leader as servant first, as opposed to the opposite
pole of being the leader first, has gained momentum over the past half century.
The Robert K Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and
the Ken Blanchard Companies are proponents of the philosophy
and principles of servant leadership. Moreover, for some time now,
Berrett-Koehler Publishers has been promoting a “New Leadership Paradigm” based
What are your thoughts
about leadership and management? I have distilled my thoughts in a visual
(click here). Whereas leadership concerns effectiveness and management concerns
efficiency, and are on different axes, they work in tandem to enable efficacy
and improve productivity. In Christian ministry, we need to do the right things
and do them right.
posts over the next few months, we will address the dynamics of leading+managing.
In a follow-up post, the “5D’s of contextual management,” we will undertake an
exegetical exercise to learn how the LORD Jesus Christ led His disciples and
managed the ministry work. In another post, the “5 Phases of TEAM FORMation,” we
will look at the transitional stages of teams of people (the influencers and
the influenced). Another post, the “5 Faces of the DARCI Pyramid,” will articulate
the multifaceted model of team roles and responsibilities to ensure all team
members are on the same page of what is expected of them as integral partners
and participants on the team.