Management vs. Leadership – Setting the Foundation

Establishing the importance of leadership and management in building a high performance culture

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could do.” Steve Jobs

The ability to survive and thrive as a true market leader in today’s mature market and tough economy is achieved by leaders’ abilities to create and sustain an entrepreneurial culture of empowerment, discipline and personal accountability.  Focused leadership with a defined plan and disciplined actions is essential to creating winning teams and performance acceleration through effective coaching, mentoring and performance measurement.

Every aspect of the business – hiring and onboarding new associates, acquiring, growing or renewing revenue and solutions within an existing customer – is positively or negatively affected by leadership quality.

The need for leadership involvement, guidance and feedback is critical to ensure that best efforts and results are executed in every interaction with the customer. Individual and team coaching is critical to overall success.  I will discuss in detail the criticality of being and effective leader to accelerate growth and a world class performance culture.  Let’s start with the fundamentals.

Leadership vs. Management

Managers and leaders are two very different types of individuals. Manager’s goals arise out of necessities rather than desires; they excel at diffusing conflicts between individuals and departments, placating all sides while ensuring the day to day business gets done.

Leaders, on the other hand, adopt personal, active attitudes towards goals. They look for the potential opportunities and rewards that lie around the corner, inspiring subordinates and firing up the creative process with their own energy. Their relationships with employees and coworkers are intense, and the working environment is often, consequently chaotic.

We need both managers and leaders to survive and succeed. We must find ways to train good management skills and develop leaders at the same time. Without a solid organizational framework, even leaders with the most brilliant ideas may spin their wheels. But without an entrepreneurial culture that develops when a leader is at the helm, we will stagnate and rapidly lose competitive power.

We need both good management and leadership skills to survive and succeed. Without a solid organizational framework, even leaders with the most brilliant ideas may spin their wheels, frustrating coworkers and accomplishing little. But without an entrepreneurial culture, our business will stagnate and rapidly lose our unique competitive position.

Today’s Take Charge Leader-Manager

Take Charge Management is the integration of principles of great leadership combined with management fundamentals in a new pragmatism is critical for success in today’s market. I am by no means debating that some of the new ideas hyped to today’s leader/managers are without merit or that managers should go back to the bureaucratic practices of the past. Instead, I am saying that the time has come to reconsider the relative balance between innovation and fundamentals.

Today’s take charge leader-manager must excel at three critical areas:

  • Direction setting
  • Aligning people
  • Planning and budgeting.

Today’s take charge Manager’s ideas should be:

  • Adopted only after careful consideration and judged by their practical consequences
  • Purged of unnecessary buzzwords and clichés, tied to the here and now and rooted in genuine problems
  • Adapted to particular people and circumstances and adaptable to changing circumstances
  • Tested and refined and discarded when they are no longer useful.


Rick Nichols is Managing Partner of TechCXO’s Sales & Marketing Practice and a member of the Executive Committee. He can be reached at or view his full bio.