Are You A Manager Or A Leader Or Both?

Some teachers are great managers, some are great leaders and then there are some that can miraculously do both.

Clearly there is a big difference between being a manager and a leader – both roles are important, but could you say what the differences are?

Peter Drucker, an influential thinker and writer on the subject of management theory and practice, stated that, “Leadership is doing the right thing and management is doing things right”.

In his book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis tells us that:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon. 
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Reading this you’d think that being a leader is far better than being a manager yet schools need both to function effectively.

We are used to hearing about the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of a school but we don’t seem to hear about a Senior Management Team (SMT)? Are leaders therefore expected to manage as well and if so the role is clearly confused. One focuses on effectiveness and the other on efficiency.

Connolly et al (2017) make the distinction and suggest

….educational management entails carrying the responsibility for the proper functioning of a system in an educational institution in which others participate. Carrying a responsibility of this kind is a state of mind and does not necessitate actions, though it typically and frequently does. In contrast, educational leadership is the act of influencing others in educational settings to achieve goals and necessitates actions of some kind.

As any member of the SLT will tell you, leadership involves plenty of management with plenty of tactical and strategic leadership. So if the role is a combination of both skill sets then at least call it by the name it deserves – the Senior Leadership and Management Team (SLMT).

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