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.