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I searched amazon.com for “books on leadership” and it returned 21,000+ hits. I googled “leadership seminars” and received 76 million+ results.

Apparently, people buy products and services with the word “leadership” in them. It’s a lot like how the word “natural” or the word “organic” helps companies sell food (and haircare products). We know that we want those things even if we’re not precisely sure what they are.

Many of my clients struggle to develop a shared understanding of what leaders are supposed to do versus what managers are supposed to do. Here is how I define these terms simply and usefully. Please give this some consideration—it may save you a lot of reading!


The manager’s job is to create results. When J. B. Say defined management in 1767 he said, “The manager is responsible for directing vision and resources toward greater results.” Of course, he’s talking about one person’s impact (a manager) on more than one other person (employees) in an organization.


The leader’s job is to create priorities and then stimulate individuals and groups to take action. This definition tells us that “leader” is not a noun it’s a verb. In other words, a leader is not a special type of person. She or he engages in a special type of action, that is, pointing others in the right direction and stimulating them to pursue a certain end.


The ability to communicate, interact, and connect with individuals and groups. We all need people skills regardless if we are managers, a leaders, or followers.


Leaders and Managers can do their jobs, using different styles, and almost any style can be successful. Prevalent misconceptions are that successful leaders have a particular style (e.g., they are charismatic) and that managers have a particular style (e.g., they are boring). The truth is that any style can work—as long as the person has the people skills to get others to work toward the organization’s vision, mission, and goals.