1.6 Managing or Leading?

Posted by Mike Kaaks

28 February 2019

1.6 Managing or Leading__1

So much is written about these two things. No doubt there is a time and place for each of them. There’s an expression of Peter Drucker’s quote on the facing page which in full reads “Managing is doing things right, Leading is doing the right things”. That’s been my anchor for this conversation from the moment I first read it.

There’s something left-brain right brain going on here. Managing is about structure and process so it fits with those things we label left brain. It can be said that it provides the means by which the ends described by a leader are achieved. Order, control, and repeatability are characteristics we associate with management. More of the left brain.

Leadership is not so easy to wrap the mind around. In fact it is clearly not just about the mind. So many of the behaviours described in Zen are clues to the path of leadership. They enshrine an spiritual ethical moral component. This heart and mind issue is best captured for me in the short wisdom “the heart can see further than the eye.” We can understand what that phrase is saying without reference to facts and processes.

Having said all that about defining leadership, there are some works on leadership – Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Challenge being my favourite – that give us a functional explanation of leadership. Key message like “Do what you say you will do”. Inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act resonate strongly and are a source of information upon which we can act.

Your reflections on this topic might be helped by reading Robert Greenleaf’s The Servant as Leader which provides an instruction on the emotional and spiritual intelligence involved in leadership. SQ and EQ deserve as much focus as IQ.

Which of these two levers do you use more frequently?

How do you like to get things done?


  • Delegating
  • Data
  • Detail
  • Controlling
  • Performance managing
  • Structure


  • Forward-Looking
  • Inspiring
  • Honest
  • Supportive
  • Courageous


Do what you say you will do!

Absolutely You