The Best Managers Are Leaders — and Vice Versa

Most of the long-running debate over “leaders” vs. “managers” focuses on nouns when it should focus on verbs. Everyone needs both “leading” and “managing” in their work, and the best executives balance the two. Over the last 15 years, the author asked a thousand executives about the difference between leading and managing, recording their responses. The distinction remains interesting and important, but it’s healthier as a balance that every individual tries to strike instead of as two distinct skillsets or roles within an organization.

The difference between leaders and managers has long been debated. Classicists like Plato pondered about the various qualities of leaders and Niccolò Machiavelli wrote about how leaders and managers are different. Over his long career, organization guru Warren Bennis famously offered these observations

The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon. 

The manager…

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This article was written by James R. Bailey and originally published on