Where Management and Leadership Meet

Since I’ve been writing this new book on leadership, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences and similarities between managing people and being a leader.  In some ways, I think they’re very distinct: I’ve know people who are excellent leaders and poor managers, and vice versa.  I think of people management as a craft. That’s how I wrote about it in Growing Great Employees, and that’s one reason it was so easy to use a gardening metaphor throughout the book; gardening is a craft, too.

Leading is more about who you are; your personal characteristics and how those show up day-to-day.  I’ve said that people look to see certain attributes in someone before they will fully commit to that person as a leader, and I believe that’s true.  You can definitely build the skills and awareness needed to become a better leader, one that people will follow – but it’s more an internal growth process than the development of a craft.  Becoming a leader requires consistent self-reflection, and a willingness to think and then behave differently.

There are at least three points of overlap, though.  Both managing people and becoming a good leader require 1) listening well, 2) being curious, and 3) managing your self-talk.

I’ve spoken about and taught all three of these things for many years (therefore the links to other blog posts), but it’s getting even clearer to me as I move through life and deal with more and more people: these capabilities are foundational for anyone who wants to get results with and through other people.

Do you agree?  If so, what are you doing about it?


About Erika Andersen

Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture.

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