We Need Leaders AND Managers

The narrative of “are you a manager or a leader?”, is one that is shared too often.  I tweeted this article yesterday that talked about this very thing:

Here are some of the contrasts between a “leader and a manager” that they talk about in the article:

Leaders create a vision, managers create goals.

Leaders are unique, managers copy.

Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.

Leaders grow personally, managers rely on existing, proven skills.

(Those are just a random four of the nine that I picked out, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.)

Then the article ends by asking this question:

Are you a manager or a leader?

If you are truly effective in a leadership position, here is what your answer should be…


Even in the four items I listed, I am thinking that both sides of those skills are needed.  For example, I think it is great when schools come up with their own ideas (Leaders are unique), while also adopting amazing ideas from other schools (managers copy).  Is it not important to “create a vision”, while you also “create goals” to see where you are along the way?

The narrative of “Leader vs. Manager”, is not one that is helpful.  The best way I have heard the two defined (attributed to Grace Hopper but I have also heard Stephen Covey use the same idea), was the idea that we “Manage things, lead people.”  Simple yet powerful.

You might have the greatest “vision” in the world, but the management is often how you bring it to fruition.  It is important to get people on the “bus”, but if the bus doesn’t have gas or a working steering wheel, good luck going where you need to be.

Management and leadership is not an “either/or” idea. For schools to be successful navigating all the change coming their way, the most effective leaders will have to be both.  Otherwise, any vision we have will never come to fruition.

Source: George Couros

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