In his book, “Built to Last”, Jim Collins talks about how highly visionary companies do not oppress themselves with what he calls the “Tyranny of OR” – the reluctance to accept two seemingly contradictory forces or ideas at the same time.  The “Tyranny of OR” pushes people to believe that things must be either A or B, but not both.  Instead of being oppressed by the “Tyranny of OR”, highly visionary companies liberate themselves with what he refers to as the “Genius of AND” – the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time.  Instead of choosing between A OR B, they figure out a way to have both A AND B.

The terms “management” and “leadership” are often interchanged. In fact, many people view them as basically the same thing.  Yet, when you look at the “what” and the “how” of managing vs. leading, there are some clear distinctions between them.   Here are a few of the notable differences: 

  • Managing deals with tasks and processes, AND leading deals with people
  • You manage through control, AND lead through trust
  • You manage by directing, AND you lead by influencing
  • You manage by the power of your position, AND you lead by the power of your person
  • Managing is more thinking, AND leading is more feeling
  • You manage from the head, AND you lead from the heart

Depending upon the situation and circumstances, either managing or leading may be appropriate and provide the desired outcome. It’s not one or the other. They are both important, and both are essential to being an effective manager. That said, for the sake of expediency, too many front-line managers are only managing. They are allowing themselves to be consumed by the work itself and ongoing operational issues. Whether it’s by design or happenstance, they devote less time, and place a lower priority on leading. It’s a vicious cycle – the less time they spend leading, the more time they need to spend managing. Their effectiveness is being oppressed by the “Tyranny of OR”, and they are missing out on the liberation they would experience through the “Genius of AND”. More importantly, they are diluting the impact they could have on employee engagement and, in turn, better business results, such as higher productivity, lower turnover, less absenteeism and higher profits. When employees are engaged they are more inclined to put in the extra effort to do a good job, are more enthusiastic and committed, and willingly promote the organization to others.

Managing is about planning, coordinating, directing and controlling the work. Leading is about appreciating, connecting and coaching the people. When these two sets of competencies are blended together as part of the manager’s natural repertoire, the “Genius of AND” is realized.

To quote Colin Powell, “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”


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