Why do people still contrast Management with Leadership?

I’m a bit puzzled why in 2022 people still contrast Management with Leadership. It makes no sense.

First of all – a Manager is a job (functional manager, product manager, project manager ..). Being a Leader is not a job function. It is a mindset and a way to act.

Everybody in an organization can act as a Leader. You do not have to have a formal “position in the hierarchy” to do so. E.g., a junior software engineer can act very strongly as a Leader, taking responsibility for the team agreeing on how best to solve a technical challenge. You’ll definitely also see the opposite, having Managers high in the hierarchy show very little Leadership skills, but that is a different story.

The memes & articles often use the stereotypes “Leaders are good people” and “Managers are bad people”. That is absolutely nonsense.

All organizations need strong Managers, and for these Managers to be successful they need (also) strong Leadership skills. 

We do not need less management – we need better management.

Marty Cagan, Silicon Valley Product Group

It makes no sense trying to compare “Management” with “Leadership”. What makes sense is to discuss an individual’s Leadership skills. That individual does not have to have any formal “Management position” in the hierarchy.

Yes – e.g., the Vice President is also a Manager; though fairly high in the formal hierarchy, thus requiring Leadership skills to be applied on a strategic level. The facts remain the same: The VP is a Manager with certain Leadership skills.

Books have been, are and will be written on “Leadership”. After many years of practice in various organizations I’ve summed-up the pragmatic essence of good (Servant-) Leadership:

Servant Leadership

The strong Manager with strong Leadership skills has the ability, dynamically to shift focus from getting everybody engaged in an ambitious vision and minutes after facilitate a Scrum meeting being very operational on specific impediments. I call this the ability to act as a helicopter pilot. It takes a lot of practical experience to become such a helicopter pilot.