Leadership vs Management: that old question

I am designing a conference program at the moment around the topic of leadership.  Looking around, i noticed this little quote by Steve Denning:

Managers are expected to accept whatever the organization wants and to make that happen. By contrast, leaders often challenge what the organization says it wants and create new goals.

That’s a nice little distinction that I am sure to use time and time again. 


8 Responses to Leadership vs Management: that old question

  1. Sue Massey says:

    I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    – Sue.

  2. Henry Pym says:

    Leadership ?
    A novel concept for the VPS.
    Good luck in your endeavours.

  3. Henry
    Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there?
    Or perhaps you have been witness to too much mutton dressed as lamb (or is that management dressed as leadership).

  4. Henry Pym says:

    Sadly yes, there is a hint of irony there.

    One tires of those high in the public sector org charts who for years have been “talking the talk” about leadership, but have proven totally incapable of “walking the walk.”

    They understand the written concepts of leadership as opposed to managing, however have no stomach for the changes needed to deliver it.

  5. Dear Henry – you speak as if from years of experience of public sector management rather than public sector leadership. The move towards agile government is very interesting – about how to design organisations for speed rather than for efficiency – another novel concept!

  6. Elijah Bailey says:

    I agree with Henry,

    A govt org designed for agility rather than efficiency is an interesting concept, not a wholly novel one however given than govt appears to have never had efficiency in mind.

    Agility and speed however are very interesting concepts. but I fear our attempts to skin these bananas will make the turning circle of the QE2, look like a spinning top.

  7. Nerida Hart says:

    The problem is that most public sector organisations are scared Sh**less by true leadership and those that are willing to take a calculated risk for change. They hide behind very traditional managment and call it leadership – usually it means don’t do anything that might end up in Senate Estimates(even if ending up there may expose really good practice and leadership and you can fully explain actions and make change)

  8. Henry Pym says:

    An excellent observation Nerida. Your sentiments are so in line with mine I feel like I know you. There is the eternal compromise between what is better for the greater good and what it takes to keep your minister happy.

    The days of frank and fearless advice from public servants to their ministers are disappearing, as few are willing to tell the politicians what they don’t what to hear. I think the terminology for this type of honest approach these days is “career limiting move.”

    Public servants are quite justifiably no longer willing to stick their head above the parapet and so a culture of toadying and servility is perpetuated.

    If a great initiative is not politically expedient or a vote catcher its not on the radar.

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