Leadership vs. Management

Brass scales with cupped traysIt’s been just over a year now since I have taken on my new role as the Media & Technology Coordinator at ESU 11. During the past year I have gained invaluable experience in both leadership and management. I have come to learn that there are vast differences between these two seemingly similar monikers.

At the NETA conference last week I attended a session titled “The Art of Change Leadership”. Presenter Bob Dillon compared and contrasted first order change with second order change. He noted how first order change is rather minor and only a slight modification to existing practice. It’s much easier to execute and generally more accepted. Conversely, second order change is more transformational, a distinct deviation from the status quo, and is often met with resistance. During an interactive part of the session one of the audience members remarked “Leadership is messy”, to which I agree whole-heartedly.

Later at the conference I was visiting with a colleague (who was in the same session) about staffing changes for the upcoming year. I noted how personnel changes always have a high element of emotion involved, even when the outcome is clearly best for the organization. He added that many are not accustom to seeing true leadership, so change can be more difficult for them to understand.

I believe Dan Rockwell summarizes it best in his recent blog post titled “Over-led and Under-managed“:

Leaders disrupt. Managers stabilize.

The real test is how to recognize when each style needs employed. When do we lead vs. manage, dream vs. do, think strategically vs. operationally? Ultimately being able to easily shift between these dynamics makes us more effective as leaders.