Oil & Water

An average student would tell you that these two terms are interchangeable. Anyone who’s ever worn a uniform (military, police, fire fighter, etc.) would tell you just how different these two really are.

The truth is that leadership and management are as different as oil and water. You can combine these two ingredients into one jar and regardless of how much you shake it up or turn it over, one of them always rises to the top. The same is true in organizations because leaders inevitably lead, and managers manage.

That sounds trite, but the difference lies in the details:


1) Have high levels of integrity

2) Are focused on the bigger picture

3) Are not comfortable with “intense detail”

4) Make their direct reports feel like they are a part of their vision

5) Do not punish mistakes – but rather see mistakes as learning opportunities from which to grow

6) Challenge the status quo

7) Are not afraid of being unpopular


1) Are process driven

2) Are comfortable with detail

3) Are more interested in the bottom line than the wider vision

4) Want to measure everything

5) Are not comfortable challenging the corporate view

6) Avoid change whenever plausible

7) Place people into processes instead of building the processes around their people

Monday Morning Perspective

“There is a difference between leadership and management. Leadership is of the spirit, 
compounded of personality and vision; its practice is an art. Management is of the mind, a matter 
of accurate calculation – its practice is a science. Managers are necessary; leaders are essential.”

Field Marshall Lord Slim, Fmr. Governor-General of Australia

“Leadership is intangible, and therefore no weapon ever designed can replace it.

-Omar N. Bradley


There is no question that managers and leaders are both important – both play crucial roles in their organizations. But likewise, it is important to acknowledge that good managers and good leaders are not one and the same.

In my experience, good leaders surround themselves with people who buy into their vision. Leaders always seem to be striving for improvement and, though not ‘change junkies,’ good leaders constantly question the status quo. It’s clear that leaders have an unquenchable thirst for improvement and excellence in all they do. They have pride of ownership but give credit everywhere it’s due.

Managers will manage whom ever they are assigned to. That managing doesn’t always translate to leadership. I’ve witnessed many a young non-commissioned officer march a platoon of Soldiers all over an Army post by barking orders without ever ‘leading’ them anywhere other than to their next meal.

I’ve also witnessed a volunteer lead an organization without any official title or recognition just by simply translating the organization’s vision into tangible action and inspiring others to do the same.

The point is that we get to decide where our journey ends. Are we happy to merely manage people, or do you really want to lead them? The choice is always ours!

Have a wonderful week!

Warmest Regards,

Crystal Dyer

 © Crystal Dyer 2012. All rights reserved.

ISSN: 2158-1355


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