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A recent and extensive, maybe I’d better say raging discussion about the difference between Leadership and Management in one of my LinkedIn groups, made me think about the expiration date of this 1977 theory started by Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik, and later on the ideas of professor John Kotter, who wrote the book “What Leaders Really do”, first published in 1990.

Kotter is saying that Leadership and Management, although complementary, are two completely different things with specific tasks and even more that people require specific capacities and potential to be successful in their role as either Manager or Leader. Being a great Leader as well as Manager therefore reserved for the happy few.

When I look at several posts of my fellow group members, and believe me, there were a lot, most of us tend to admire our leaders in a way. As if they are the charismatic chosen ones, the ones with the visionary ideas, the ones with the fearless personalities. Leadership is about people, guiding, inspiring, motivating, authenticity, integrity, strategy, proactivity, seeing the whole picture, dealing with change, future goals, passion, confidence, aspirations, admiration, awareness, natural instincts, empowerment, mission, …

On the other hand, we talk about Management as in assets, operations, processes, controlling, tasks, assignments, resources, tactics, planning, reactivity, seeing only parts of the picture, performance, problem solving, coordination, planning, budgeting, organizing, dealing with complexity, developing, instructions, authority, …

But in todays organizations, don’t you expect every single one within your organization to take a leading role within his or her circle of influence? And don’t we all have to “Lead” our own teams to have them reach our company goals and maybe even prevent them from leaving not only their Managers but especially their Leaders? Do you expect your management team to be good at Managing not only their business, but also at Leading their people? And what about mission statements that say “Lead by example” throughout the entire organization?

Along with some of those fellow LinkedIn group members, I do start to wonder if the whole “Leading” philosophy hasn’t been over-commercialised. Be honest, wouldn’t you invest more in a “Leadership program” than let’s say in a “Management development program”? Maybe we should upgrade the word Management again and trust those positions to people that know how to combine both Leadership and Management?

Questions or remarks? Feel free to comment!

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself.