We’ve all seen the memes.

The manager administers; the leader innovates.

Managers give answers; leaders ask questions.

Managers focus on the bad; leaders emphasise the good.


The same old story – leaders are great, but managers are apparently terrible because they do this and that.

The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

The manager maintains; the leader develops.

But hold on a second! Can you imagine a company comprising nothing but these visionary, out-of-the-box, inquisitive, unconstrained leaders?

Managers want credit; leaders credit their teams.

Managers rarely praise; leaders reward even the smallest improvement.

The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

Let’s have a look at this status quo-challenging company: a self-sustainable geodesic dome full of shoeless geniuses, only emerging from their ergonomic bean bag pods to throw a few crazy ideas around before plunging into an afternoon of skydiving. When you factor in the morning hikes to mountain-top meetings, the constant self-discovery retreats and the daily four-hour “imagination time” – when does anything get done?

The manager imitates; the leader originates.

Managers criticize mistakes; leaders call attention to mistakes indirectly.

Managers actualise; leaders visualise.

Right, we need to put the brakes on this wild ride and examine this cultish chanting for a moment. Ok, so leaders visualise, and managers actualise – how is that so bad? It sounds like our visionary company actually needs some managers to bring it down to earth and get it all in order.

There’s a fine line between a genius and a maniac. Perhaps the genius recognises it can’t all be fun and game-changers.

So let’s accept that not everyone in the company can be a visionary leader, and while a company without vision may or may not succeed, a company without good managers is doomed to failure.

Good managers get things in order, are adept at allocating resources, and are able to transform the company’s vision into a reality.

Leadership is about doing the right things, management is about doing things the right way. And having a good company is about doing the right things in the right way.

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