Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Leadership vs Management September 21 2008


Bob Sutton, a Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School, has an interesting blog which we have just come across. Sutton, a regular writer for amongst others, The Financial Times, The Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, looks at the difference between leadership and management in a recent blog. Sutton's main point is that an absolute binary distinction between the two terms can often be misleading.

Sutton quotes Warren Bennis: "There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important. To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in a direction, course, action, opinion. The distinction is crucial".

Sutton goes on to say: "I am all for grand visions and strategies. But the people who seem to make them come true usually seem to have deep understanding of the little details required to make them work -- or if they don't, they have the wisdom to surround themselves with people who can offset their weaknesses and who have the courage to argue with them when there is no clear path between their dreams and reality.

I am not much rejecting the distinction between leadership and management, but I am saying that the best leaders do something that might be most properly called a mix of leadership and management ... or at least, lead in a way that constantly takes into account the importance of management. And some of the worst senior executives use the distinction between leadership and management as an excuse to avoid learning the details they need to understand the big picture and to select the right strategies."

Click here to read more of Bob Sutton's blog.

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