Leadership Without Management

Many famous statements differentiate between a manager and a leader. How to lead without being in a managerial role?

Gunnar Habitz

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Photo by Adobe Stock

While the reality is never just black and white, most quotes are designed to show these as two different elements. Quoting Warren Bennis:

“The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.”

John Kotter, Leadership Professor at Harvard University, described leadership as “aligning people to the vision, that means buy-in and communication, motivation and inspiration” while “Management is a set of processes that keep an organisation functioning”. The winning balance between “Managers handle processes” and “Leaders inspire people” is related to concrete situational requirements. The same company might need an innovative leader at their helm at one time and an operating manager in another circumstance.

Over the last couple of years, many companies moved to lean structures with less hierarchies and reduced number of managers. Senior individual contributors are requested to take leadership without carrying a management title or even a team lead role. How to move there without formal structure and education?

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Gunnar Habitz

Content Creator for Social Selling & LinkedIn, author of "Connect & Act", Leadership Mentor and Board Director. Writing here and on www.gunnarhabitz.com.au