Why Managers not Leaders?

I am often asked why I chose to set up a Progressive Managers’ Network. Surely a Progressive Leaders’ Network would be more appealing.

Well that maybe so – but the focus of this network is fiercely practical – and I want it to appeal to people who want to get things done. In my experience talking about ‘leadership’ attracts people who are strong thinkers and communicators – but not always doers.

And so much leadership theory is overly complicated – while this network is about doing the basics exceptionally well and then building from there. Too much leadership training fails to be effective because the basics of good management – especially the interpersonal stuff – are not in place.

But finally I just love good management. Done well it is a fine and noble profession. A good manager can be an even more powerful force for good than a good teacher or mentor. It is just sad that so few people can point to the experience of working with a really good manager.


  1. Yeah, true and also phrases become flavour of the month – ‘manager’ has almost been a dirty word for years now – most people thinking about the person with 5 gold stars at McDonalds looking stressed and shouting! I love to think, but I like to see my job make a difference and I can only do that through doing, especially putting people first.

  2. There has been a long running and crude distinction made in much business training between managers and leaders = managers are focused on procedure and the dry boring detail of internal structures and processes, whereas leaders are the exciting visionaries, outward focused and unshackled from the burdens of operational constraints. Surely the two cannot be mutually exclusive roles. For me leadership is a value and a gift which runs across many roles within and without organisations (including those in ‘management’). Some of the leadership training I have been on looked condescendingly upon the role of management as limiting and short sighted. Surely good leaders need also to be good managers as you need to have the interpersonal ability to bring others on the journey. How can someone be a leader if no-one is going with them.

  3. Lets reclaim management for the good guys and gals. It is about getting things done that make a positive difference.

  4. Judy Yacoub says:

    I agree that to be an effective leader you must have a solid understanding of good management practice to accompany your vision, communication skills and authority. The leadership/management overlap is not always clear cut, but it could be coded as starting from “never asking someone else to do what you’re not prepared to do yourself”.

    I wonder if the separate territories of manager and leader aren’t mainly a by-product of the efficiency/effectiveness axis (the conventional business model that demands efficient managers and effective leaders). The efficiency/effectiveness tension is resolved when striking a balance between the two…to achieve sustainable development. Anyone for effective management as a way forward?

  5. Effective management – in pursuit of passion and purpose – that is what we are all about at the Progressive Managers’ Network.
    To me it is about focussing on our behaviours, anticipating and understanding their impacts. Every behaviour has an impact on both management and leadership. Getting the balance right is key.

  6. I think managers need to manage as well as lead, but without the leadership part, it may lack the heart. Management is the fundamentals of getting things done daily, weekly, monthly and that is all important. Without good fundamentals in clear expectations, good consistent feedback, and accountability, people are not able to contribute as fully as they can. That said, leadership provides the vision, the what next, the why we are doing it that leads to higher motivation beyond just coming to work and getting the job done day after day. Any person in a supervisory capacity must use both effectively.

  7. Agreed! Over here in the UK we seem to have a surfeit of the products of leadership (mission, vision, values statements etc) but a paucity of examples where those leadership statements are actually put consistently into practice.

    Hence my focus on management as the role of taking the ‘products of leadership’ and finding ways to bring them to life in the day to day work of the organisation.

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