Only One in Ten Have the Talent to Manage

“Gallup’s research reveals that about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage.” (Gallup)

The myth of the great leader riding in on a white horse pollutes our thinking about the value of good management.


All leaders manage. All managers lead. It’s useful to divide the two roles for analysis and training. But in practice, the functions blur and blend.

The needle tips more toward management the closer you are to the front-line. The higher you go in an organization, the more leadership skill matters. But both skill-sets matter.

12 shared responsibilities of managers and leaders:

  1. Care for people.
  2. Connect.
  3. Speak to purpose.
  4. Exemplify organizational values.
  5. Communicate effectively.
  6. Focus on performance.
  7. Delegate authority.
  8. Build morale.
  9. Cultivate mutual accountability.
  10. Teach, mentor, and coach.
  11. Monitor and measure progress.
  12. Celebrate success.

4 things managers do:

  1. Answer the questions: What do we do and how do we do it?
  2. Set near-term goals that move organizations toward long-term objectives.
  3. Improve efficiency by developing and refining systems and processes.
  4. Stabilize – more than disrupt – in order to reliably deliver results.

4 things leaders do:

  1. Answer the questions: Who are we and where are we going?
  2. Look down the road and over the hill.
  3. Improve effectiveness. Drucker wrote, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
  4. Disrupt in order to break new ground.

4 Core ideas:

#1. Stagnant organizations need leadership. Chaotic organizations need management. Read, “That’s Not How We Do it Here,” by John Kotter.

#2. Managers think near-term. Leaders focus on long-term. Everyone is concerned about both. It’s a matter of degree.

#3. The disruptive nature of leadership and the stabilizing nature of management make tension between the two expected, normal, and healthy.

#4. Managers ask, “How do we do things better?” Leaders ask, “How do we do new things?”

What shared responsibilities between managers and leaders did I leave off my list? Which are most important?

What differences do you see between the role of manager and the role of leader? (Think role, not title.)

Added resources: “What do Managers Do” (WSJ)