Leadership and Management Myths

Leaders and Managers & People. Leadership & Management are Acts

There seems to be a big myth that says, “being a leader is all about leadership and being a manager is all about management”.

I often hear people say, “I’ll tell you what leadership is all about; leaders inspire, motivate, encourage ………. others”. Or, alternatively, “I’ll tell you what management is all about; managers plan, organise, structure ………. work”.

Managers and leaders are people, management and leadership are acts; acts of management, or acts of leadership. You can’t define leadership by talking about leaders and you can’t define management by talking about managers.

Many people think that being a leader is all about being noble & ethical and influencing, energising, and enthusing people whereas being a manager is more about mundane things such as telling people what to do, measuring progress, and verifying work.

Images of managers “bossing” people around and leaders “empowering” people abound on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Someone who is being pushy, micromanaging, deciding autocratically, criticising people is engaging neither in leadership nor management.

The vast majority of people I come across in business are managers (group, project, department, business, senior, etc.) and they manage teams of people who are expected to “get stuff done”.

Very few people have the title “leader” in business organisations, but that doesn’t stop anyone incarnating their leadership.

Leaders are not better than managers; both are people and at the end of the day, a title is what you make of it. You may be the manager of an operational team working on a highly technical work package in your area of technical expertise or you may be a manager of a transversal team working on strategic orientations for which you are far from the expert – in both cases, you will need some structure and organisation in order for your motivated, enthusiastic and willing people to get a result.

Managers need both a leadership ability and a management ability.

Leadership is not better or preferable to management, we need both; leadership without management can lead to broken promises, and management without leadership can lead to turning in circles.

In my day-to-day work I interact with managers at all levels of organisations; there are those, at all levels, that are great at management and there are those that are great at leadership, and then there are those that are great at both management & leadership – I’ll leave you to imagine, in general, those that make a real difference with their teams.


Bob Larcher
Bob Larcher
Bob Larcher is an independent leadership development consultant; he has been designing & delivering personal, team & leadership development programs for almost 35 years, both in English and in French and his clients include Blue Chip corporate giants, Charities, Start-ups, and the Public Sector. Bob is also a visiting lecturer at several French Business Schools. Since his first leadership seminar in 1986, Bob has designed and delivered in excess of 3000 days of training & coaching. His background is in Outdoor Management Development and he was previously a shareholder of a major player in the UK market; he is an Accredited Practitioner of the UK Institute of Outdoor Learning and a member of the panel reviewing articles for their journal, “Horizons”. He is based in Toulouse in France but works all over Europe. Bob is an accredited Insights Discovery Personal Profile user, an accredited Integrated Leadership Measure user and a Master Trainer in Mental Toughness. He also designs customized 360° leadership & management evaluations Bob is passionate about helping people to discover, develop and deploy their leadership capacity in order to enable them to drive the personal, organizational and societal transformations they are involved in.

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  1. These are two fundamental roles that should be able to integrate and it is rare, very rare, to find these two attitudes integrated in the same person.
    Some of the skills that are normally attributed to leads or managers are actually shared, perhaps they are declined in a different way because in everyday life a leader is focused on “what must be done” while a manager is focused on “how to do it”.
    It can be emphasized that the need to have a leader at the top of an organization is strong in the transition phases in which it is necessary to redefine the business and make difficult choices that require strong convictions on how to interpret the future.
    Instead, having a top manager is important to manage continuity and progressively improve management efficiency.
    But they both need to hone their skills by developing them through mutual collaboration.

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