Berger Leadership Blog

Sep 30, 2022

Managers or Leaders? Be both

Ever heard of the common debate between leaders and managers? While the two roles require different skillsets, it’s important that as executives, we can utilize both as we lead those in our organizations.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, author James R. Bailey uncovers that rather than debating “leaders” vs. “managers,” people should focus on the idea that people need both leading and managing skill sets in their work, and the best executives balance the two skills.

Bailey emphasizes the importance of using leadership skills to provide teams with direction and using management skills to keep teams on course. To clarify the difference, Bailey asked over 1,000 C-Suite executives from 17 countries to answer the analogy, “Leadership is to ____ as management is to ____.”

Some of my favorite analogies include:

  1. Leadership is to values as management is to facts

  2. Leadership is to picture as management is to colors

  3. Leadership is to purpose as management is to plan

  4. Leadership is to compass as management is to GPS

  5. Leadership is to transform as management is to perform

In addition, Bailey gave a few suggestions for executives to learn to balance the two skillsets, such as:

  1. using internal communication channels to express the idea of balance between these two skillsets, such as mission statements, company publications, emails, public statements, casual conversations, etc.;

  2. creating regular dialogue about issues with C-suite executives and other officers;

  3. integrating the skillsets into the conversation at meetings and during performance reviews; and

  4. offering success stories that illustrate an effective balance between the two skillsets.

As executives, it is necessary to not only identify a vision for our organizations, but also to identify the necessary steps to get there. In doing so, we will be able to map out the future for our employees, setting them up for success and surpassing organizational goals in the process.

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