management vs leadership: another false dichotomy

I read and hear it often. Comparisons between managers and leaders typically set the former in an unfavorable light, and the latter with a halo effect. Enough already.

I understand the points that are being made. It is true that our churches and businesses need strong leaders who can mobilize people toward worthy common goals. So, as a culture we extol those who exhibit extraordinary capacity to do so. They seem to have a special gift for captivating the imaginations of many, and initializing movement toward what once was thought impossible. We need people like that, as long as they keep in mind who it is that enables them and sustains them, namely the Lord God.

But who is it that typically must execute the details of the leader’s master plans over a sustained period of time? Managers, of course. And the many unsung employees or volunteers that comprise the leader’s following. The best managers are leaders in their own right. So much has been made of the foibles of managers. You would think that no good could possibly come from their efforts. Likewise, the comparisons between managers and leaders might lead you to believe that true leaders do not need their detail-oriented counterparts. Wrong.

The fact is, true leaders know their limits, understand their weaknesses, and bring people into their trust who can fill in the gaps, making the entire organization stronger for it.  It might be a manager. Or a middle-manager. Or even a low-level employee who performs at a level of integrity, productivity, and enthusiasm which acts as a positive leaven within the entire organization.

Truth be told, a title does not fully make a person the leader, or the manager, or even the small fry employee. It is performance. It is about who captivates the imagination of the rest, earns their trust, and creates a movement toward realizing the overall dream of the organization.

Think about that next time you head back to work, either in the marketplace or in a religious organization such as a church. If you are a manager or low-level employee, put off any tendency to feel downtrodden. Be your own cause, working with a purpose, as if you are employed by the Lord, himself. Because the fact is, you are.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s