Category Archives: Coaching

Management vs Leadership

Leaders - Lao Tzu

I’ve been doing a lot more research on the above subject recently, it’s been fascinating.

In all the coaching work I do with managers and leaders we nearly always have a very specific conversation about the difference between these two words.  A good leader needs to be able to manage, AND lead. To succeed as Lao Tzu describes takes a combination of both. But how do you do it?

I’ve tried to help by pointing at various books (Good to Great by Jim Collins for example) which in a previous blog I’ve described – the Level 5 Leader – in order to help define what leadership is all about. There’s also this great Ted Talk by Rosalinde Torres about what makes a great leader.

She points to 3 key features of leaders:

Great leaders are not head-down. They see around corners, shaping their future, not just reacting to it.

Great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people that are thinking differently than you are. This allows them to do the above.

Great leaders dare to be different. They don’t just talk about risk-taking, they actually do it. And one of the leaders shared with her the fact that the most impactful development comes when you are able to build the emotional stamina to withstand people telling you that your new idea is naïve or reckless or just plain stupid.
Understanding these, she says, will determine your effectiveness as a 21st-century leader.

However I’ve found that these two are a still just little wide of the mark for those leaders or managers who are trying to make a difference in their day to day work. What we find in our sessions is the need for a framework they can use to identify the DIFFERENCE – i.e. when they’re doing it ‘right’. That is, when to lead or when to manage, and something to help them decide when they should use the different styles. By clearly laying out the difference between the two, the choice to Lead or to Manage is made easier.

I found an answer with an old master, John Kotter. In this excellent article he describes the differences so precisely and with such clarity I believe it is a MUST READ for all current and aspiring leaders: .

I’ve summarised the thoughts into one diagram – take a look here and download it if you want, a number of my coachees have it laminated and taped up in their office!

How does this work for you in your day to day management vs leadership challenge?

New Leaders and Managers – some tips for those first 30 days.

A great article here from Jeanne DeWitt, a former director at Google. One of the scariest and most daunting career moments for anyone in business is the move into a senior position. Like bringing a baby home for the first time you feel you haven’t been taught what to do – sometimes you feel you’re making it up as you go along, having to trust your instincts!
At Spring several of our collaborative team have extensive experience in not only making the change themselves  but also coaching new managers and leaders as they make the transition – and I mean into leadership not having a baby! Corine Hines, Nick Shaw, Ann Sherington and Geraldine McCullagh – all of them can help, and of course so can I. However, just to get you started is a great article from Jeanne.

In the first 30 days good leaders:


‘Be as open and transparent about what you’re thinking as quickly as possible’

Ask questions:

‘I make a rule that about 50 percent of the words coming out of my mouth should end with a question mark’’

Figure out what people really want to do:

‘Meet with all of your direct reports for at least an hour within your first week. Ask them about what they really enjoy doing and what they aspire to be doing’

Get their hands dirty.

‘Spend time doing the work that your team actually does. Not only does this help establish you as someone who leads by example, but you also learn first-hand about all of the different challenges that people experience every day’

Are decisive.

‘Once you have a good lay of the land, explicitly lay out your vision and then plan to start moving toward it’
Check out the whole article yourself – some really sound advice. Share your experiences with us if you like, or make contact to see what we might be able to do to help.

Doing Less, Leading More – the type of leadership that get things done

Here’s a great article on a key theme – doing and leading. I think it asks some really valuable questions about something that is quite close to my heart, and in actual fact at the top of the page right here on the blog. Take a look:

The key distinction and insight I believe is that to do less and lead more you have to be able to get things done through and with, people. There is no point in being a good leader, in fact you are not being a good leader if things are not being achieved, getting done…. The question is how.

Are you getting it done by doing it yourself, or by doing through other people, by leading them? An interesting and perennial problem we’ve all grappled with. The instinct to roll up ones sleeves and crack on and do it yourself and be the pacesetter, is very strong, but ultimately that is not leadership.

As the article says………‘the softer skill sets, the real leadership, the ability to work with others and through others, to execute, that is still in very scarce supply.” Learning how to do this and to embed it into the culture of the organisation is the challenge.

Leadership and The Art of Persuasion


Most people only know about rhetoric when it is ’empty’ – could you, hand on heart, say what it actually was? Until I read a book just recently I didn’t quite understand how important the mastery of this could be for leaders and managers too (and I don’t mean the mastery of empty rhetoric!). The book, ‘You Talkin’ to Me – Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama’ by Sam Leith, is a fantastically good read . It helps you to understand the basics and more importantly what you can do to get better. A fundemental skill reqiured for good leadership too.

Rhetoric – the art of persuasion: the attempt by one human being to influence another in words. Simple isn’t it. And isn’t that something that every single day we have to do, in almost every part of what we do as leaders or managers of teams? We don’t work in businesses where people simply follow orders. We have instructions and requests, and things that we want to have happen to get things done, but almost all of the time our conversations with people involve some sort of persuasion.

Would you mind….? How about if….? I know how you might be feeling about this as I’ve been there, but..;What you need to do is not only talk the talk, but walk the talk…. We all have our styles and methods, some good, some (very) bad! The book is great in describing what exactly is going on when we use these words and phrases, with the terms and names, if you want to learn them (- I didn’t), and by doing so can teach you loads.

Example: ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears…’ – an appeal to Ethos – ‘I am like you, we (friends), are together and you should really listen to me…..’ If you only learn about Ethos, Logos and Pathos you will be well on your way!

With famous speeches from Churchill, Obama and many others, as well as lesser known examples, Sam Leith takes you through the whole thing. I highly recommend it as almost essential reading for leaders and managers who need to persuade people, and those like me who, from time to time have to get up and speak to bigger groups or teams……Isn’t that all of us though?

(P.S. Have I persuaded you?!)