Management vs Leadership…

I’ve taught for 30 years and never had ambitions to become an administrator. I never wanted to be head of anything that would involve budgets, complaints, deadlines, discipline or reporting to the board.  I’m lucky to have a position nowadays that involves, not just teaching, but working with teachers, building a learning community, developing curriculum and plenty of opportunities to think about learning.

A discussion with a colleague this week got me thinking about the difference between leadership and management. I know the two are not mutually exclusive and I’ve come across many school leaders who combine both roles admirably! But I’ve also interacted with those who focus on management and see their role as reactive, dealing more with issues than education… and I find that very sad.

I created this cartoon to illustrate some of the differences between leadership and management.


A chance comment on Twitter by George Couros, an administrator who is a leader in every sense of the word, got me thinking. He said the character depicting the manager looked more like him, which made me think…  It’s much more stressful being a real leader than a manager. Everything matters. Being a change agent requires huge effort. Working against the flow takes courage. Thinking all the time can be exhausting. Being a risk taker requires resilience. Being passionate takes a lot of energy.

Here’s the new version…


And one more thing…

You can lead from anywhere. Leadership doesn’t have to come from the top.


16 thoughts on “Management vs Leadership…

  1. I think your comment about leading from anywhere is so true. Have you read a book by Maxwell “360 Leadership” his premise is that anyone could lead from anywhere. Love your posts


  2. Hi Edna. I agree – true leadership takes a lot more effort and emotional input. If you really want things to change you have to invest so much of yourself into that. You have to have the passion to share with others so that they understand the why. I think many teachers are leaders without the official title when they inspire others to challenge themselves and try something new.


  3. BUT – although you can lead from anywhere… the truth is the tone is most often set by leadership in the hierarchical order.
    When the vision is dynamic and collaborative… then the whole organisation just pulses.
    great leadership welcomes and encourages leadership everywhere as well as sharing in and providing dynamic thinking and learning too.
    That way we all grow.


  4. Another superb post Edna! I’m going to use this post within a project called the ‘Developing Leaders Programme’ at my school. The first session is based around management vs leadership. Can’t believe how lucky I am to have stumbled upon this post. Many thanks! (expect even more people to visit your blog)



  5. Thank you for sharing this Edna. I agree with the other comments
    but would add that in order to lead well, you also need
    to be able to manage well. Leadership is about inspiring a group of individuals
    to collaborate together towards a common goal. If the systems and structures are in place,
    to support this work, a leader gains trust. Trust of the collective group is key for innovation to
    occur and be sustaiable over time.
    I appreciate the opportunity to share. Love the cartoon!


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