elevating team performance

Management and Leadership: Actor or Expert?


If you are in a position of management at your place of employment, you have choices to make every day. If you are relatively new to the position, whether due to sudden promotion or career advancement, you likely feel a sense of being overwhelmed. As you get your feet under you, you have even more choices to make.

There’s a way of thinking known as “fake it ’til you make it.” As insincere as that sounds, it is a widespread practice for aspiring managers and those simply trying to survive.


I like to think of this concept as the difference between being an actor or an expert. From time to time I am asked if I am an attorney. Over the years I have worked with so many lawyers, I have a pretty solid understanding of the key principles they use to accomplish their job. So, in many instances, I can talk at deep levels about the aspects of deals being done.

When I am questioned about my law degree, I usually reply “no I am not an attorney, but I played one on TV.” You can have a deep understanding of a subject yet still not be an expert. You can act the part, but not really know the material.


Actors famously study their characters, often pursuing real-time experiences doing the things the person did. The experience builds an appreciation so that the portrayal on screen looks real. Managers often do the same thing. Good managers walk the floor, asking questions about the activity of their team so that they can better comprehend the details and build a base of understanding for what it is they manage.

Leadership is another specialty unto itself. While many think they understand what management is about, few really differentiate leadership from management. After all, we know who the managers are because of the titles given to them. You’ll seldom see a nameplate with “leader” somewhere in the title. Leaders work on the development of their leadership skill set too.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”John Maxwell” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=”16″]If you don’t have a following, you’re not a leader, you’re just taking a walk.[/perfectpullquote] Leaders are recognized for their ability to create followers. If you lack a tribe of followers, you are not yet a leader. You may want to be the leader, but without the ability to influence those around you, you are not their leader.

Lead in the MOMENTThe Difference

To understand the difference between management and leadership I like this simple explanation; Management is about process. Leadership is about people.

Managers impact the way a team operates. They can set procedures, policies, and practices. Good managers hit the goals, control expenses, and keep things humming. However, leadership gets into the hearts and minds of the people. Becoming a true leader can set you apart from the managers in your peer group.

Becoming an expert at leadership allows you to begin building a legacy of leadership, influencing those who report to you. [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=”16″]It has been said the true measure of a leader is not what happens while they are present, but what happens once they are absent.[/perfectpullquote]

Development and Coaching

Business schools have only recently added leadership courses into their curriculum. For decades MBA factories focused on balance sheets, cost control, and finance to teach the business leaders of tomorrow. Then someone decided maybe this leadership arena is worth our attention. Now, going for a post-graduate degree in business will likely have you participating in leadership classes and workshops.

However, if you are already in the workforce and never got that leadership training, coaching is your primary option for expanding and growing your leadership effectiveness.

As I engage new clients we always have an “AH-HA” moment. The light bulb goes off and the client realizes the missing link for the subtle, but significant difference between being a good manager and great leader.

Once that happens, the energy levels rise and the focus on creating meaningful impact grows.

I’ve dealt with very senior managers, C-suite people, who still needed their own AH-HA moments to make the difference. You too can join them in growing your ability to lead others.

coaching call

Question: What are you doing to develop your leadership muscle, your toolkit for better leadership and influence?

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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