Leaders and Managers…they are different...right?

I taught a class today on leadership and management. Always the ever assuming leader, I was taken aback by the fact that most of the students felt as though I was a manager. When I asked a few other co-workers, they felt the same way! Today’s experience reminded me of my first physical. I blindly walked in and did what the doctor said dropped, turned, and coughed. I left the classroom confused; just like when I left the physical…did that just happen? I was devastated. I walked away thinking that I had become everything that I had strived not to be. A task-oriented, resourcing, people using manager. I couldn’t believe it. I thought to myself that I had become everything that I hated. It was extremely hard for me bear. All I could think about was that the culmination of my life thus far to be a leader had been an utter failure. But didn’t all of those years in high school and college developing as a leader account for something? I tried to find some justification or meaning to my life as a leader. Was I a leader or was I a manager? I do lead people by motivation not out of necessity don’t I? As I tried to think about how I could redeem myself the only thing that kept beating itself against my brain was the fact that…why couldn’t it be both/and not either/or? This conclusion was the closest shot that I could come to redemption. Have I been given the gift of leadership and administration? I hated the duality of it all, but maybe just maybe this was the answer. I remembered that as leaders, we often time picture ourselves as bigger or larger than life. That every choice we make does make a difference and effects the lives of those around us...they do, but maybe not as much as we’d like to believe. However, I’ll just have to learn to walk with a little more humility…I hate physicals.


Cameron Schaefer said...

I have a one word response for you, "MU." I reject the premise of the question. Leaders have to have managerial skills right? Managers have to have leadership skills right? I give you a segment from a book, "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid":

"You see, 'MU' is an ancient Zen answer answer, which, when given to a question, UNMASKS the question. Here the question seems to be, 'Should the world be understood via holism, or via reductionism?' And the answer, 'MU' here rejects the premises of the question, which are that one or the other must be chosen. By unmasking the question, it reveals a wider truth: that there is a larger context into which both holistic and reductionist explanations fit." -pg 312

So, don't get bent out of shape as to whether you're a manager or a leader...the answer is you can't separate the two. Which seems to be what you began to concluded anyway.

Justin Steinhart said...

Thanks for the affirmation. I gotta stop doing this, but it does make for some great dialogue. Give me a little more about that book...you got me intrigued.

Cameron Schaefer said...

Haha, yeah, its a debate I don't see going away anytime soon. The book is "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas R. Hofstadter. I admit, I haven't read the whole thing only parts of it that we looked at in one of my Management classes at the Academy. Incredibly interesting, but complex book. Won the Pulitzer Prize in the late 1970s. It looks at human thought and creativity and mixes in complex math theories along the way...a mind trip, to say the least.