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Leadership vs. Management: Navigating the Fine Line

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the distinction between leadership and management is more crucial than ever. While both roles are vital for organizational success, understanding their differences can be the key to unlocking true potential.

Leadership isn’t about waiting for inspiration; it’s about making choices and taking action. Unlike the poet waiting for the muse, leaders choose to lead. They don’t suffer from “leader’s block.” They see a cycle, embrace it, and repeat it, much like how Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs approached their careers.

But leadership isn’t just about moving forward. It’s about taking responsibility, even when things go wrong. Leadership is similar to boxing, you’re gonna get hit. If you don’t care enough to get hit, you can’t be a leader.

Management, on the other hand, often employs fear, shame, and anger to control and direct. But in a world that’s rapidly changing, these tactics are becoming obsolete. We need more leaders, not just managers.

Soft skills or as they should be rightly called, “real skills.” These are the attributes that truly differentiate a human leader from a robotic manager. Attributes like loyalty, fearlessness, creativity, and trustworthiness. These aren’t just innate gifts; they are attitudes, and therefore skills that can be cultivated and developed.

Decision-making is another area where leadership and management diverge. Good leaders understand the difference between outcomes and decisions. A good outcome doesn’t necessarily mean a good decision was made. Leaders focus on making good decisions, even if the outcomes are uncertain. They understand the pitfalls of sunk costs and the importance of quitting when necessary. “Quitting is for winners.”

Empathy is another crucial aspect of leadership. It’s about understanding what others need, even if you don’t share their perspective. It’s about connecting, challenging, and building a culture. It’s about leading a tribe of like-minded individuals towards a common goal.

While management is about maintaining the status quo and ensuring processes are followed, leadership is about innovation, empathy, and making tough decisions. It’s about seeing the potential for footprints on the moon and having the courage to take that giant leap.

Merrill Charette

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