How and When Management and Leadership Skills Mix


Growth of the Organization Determines Whether Leadership or Management Is Needed.

For the last year or so, I have been helping several companies and individuals understand the difference between management and leadership behaviors. There are not only clear differences in how they are defined, but also when each is most appropriate.

It is important to make a distinction, first of all, between management and leadership behaviors. It is also important to understand that leadership cannot survive without management and vice versa. For the purpose of this article, leadership is about inspiring and motivating, and management is about planning, organizing and coordinating.

The growth of organizations happens in phases, from startup to success. All organizations go through these phases, at different speeds and because of different factors, both internal and external. Long-term success of organizations depends upon leaders recognizing those phases and putting actions in place to move effectively from phase to phase. The mix of leadership and management behaviors change in the organization, depending on the phase.

Phase 1 – Formative. This phase is typically at the beginning or startup of an organization. There is a great deal of discovery that is going on here. Trying out different processes, systems and procedures to see what works for the organization. A great deal of trial and error happens in this phase. The organization is searching for success patterns and is dependent upon finding them in order to move to the next phase.

In this phase, leadership is more important than management. Leaders must exhibit leadership behaviors 80 percent of the time. Some leadership behaviors for Phase 1 are creating a compelling vision, breakthrough thinking, being a role model, being versatile and thinking big. Since success patterns at this point are few and far between, the management skills of maintaining processes is not necessary.

Phase 2 – Normative. This phase is characterized by solid processes, systems and procedures that work. The key here is working to duplicate the things that are working well, in order to continue the success. Efficiency, effectiveness, stability and predictability are all present in this phase. The organization is very independent and full of various success patterns.

In this phase, the appropriate mix of behaviors is 80 percent management and 20 percent leadership. Leaders must be consistent day-to-day thinkers who know how to run the operation and monitor it to make sure it is running smoothly. Leaders ensure proper training and development is in place and that people are held accountable for their performance. Leadership behaviors are not as important as the ability to manage the organization systematically in this phase.

Phase 3 – Integrative. The Integrative Phase is characterized by the patterns of success that worked so well in the past that no longer work so well. Both internal and external factors play a part in an organization getting to Phase 3. Leaders must be able to re-think and modify the things that have proven successful to this point. Organizations that are not able to make this transition will fade away.

In this phase, a 50-50 mix of leadership and management behaviors is needed. Systems and processes that have worked well must be evaluated and modified to fit the organization in its current state. Leaders must work to create a new compelling vision for the organization, motivate people to take some new risks, while at the same time manage and monitor success patterns that are worth keeping in place.

Note that careers go through the same three phases. If you do not keep growing and changing, your career will plateau, limiting your long-term success.

As a leader, understand that having only good leadership skills or only good management skills, is not enough with business environments changing as quickly as they do today. Always stay attuned to where your organization is in its growth patterns and be flexible and prepared in your responses to change.

When your sit back on your heels, the next step is to fall back on your rear end.


Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..