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What’s the difference between leadership vs. management?

Imagine you’ve got a patch of woods that’s brambles, thorns, trees, and brush. You need to move yourself and your group through the woods safely and quickly.

The Leader is the person in front, hacking away at the foliage, making the trail for others to follow.

The Manager is the person who ensures everyone else is moving along safely on the trail and at the correct pace. The Manager is often at the back of the group, helping stragglers keep up.

You cannot do both at the same time.

If you’re leading, it’s counterproductive to go back down the trail and manage. At smaller organizations, you may have to fulfill both roles, but every minute you’re managing is a minute you’re not moving forward, not carving out new trails for your organization to explore.

If you’re managing, it’s irresponsible to forsake your charges, wander off, and attempt to lead. You cannot lead from behind, and every minute you’re up front is a minute that your team isn’t benefitting from your support. They’re stumbling over vines, hungry, thirsty, and laggards falling so far back that they eventually get lost.

Leadership and management are equally important. You need both to succeed; neither is better or worse.

The most common stumbling block is personality. Some people are better leaders than managers. Some people are better managers than leaders.

Know who you are, then work in the role that best suits you.


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