Blurring the Line


After talking extensively about the differences between a manager and a leader, I thought it would be a good topic to revisit quickly. Warren Bennis started writing the book, “On Becoming a Leader” in 1986, because he wanted to do something drastic in the leadership world. He focused on interviewing women and other minority populations that had been ignored by other authors. He wrote with extreme candor, and through his authenticity he earned the trust of his readers. This one book allowed him to write several more, and he credits the success of those additional books to the loyal tribe that spawned from “On Becoming a Leader.”
Nearly twenty years later, and about a year since his passing, Bennis’ knowledge and analysis are widely known. Looking at the list of leader and managerial traits found in his book, it is easy to see a clear distinction between the two roles. However, in a 2011 interview, Bennis himself said he wouldn’t make that distinction quite as sharp anymore. He sees more overlap between the two roles, and believes that as time goes on, the line between the two roles will continue to blur more and more.

After reading our analysis of managing versus leading, head over to read Bennis’ full interview. Do you agree with Bennis? Are the roles of manager and leader becoming less and less different? Or, do these traits and behaviors still define a very different type of boss?

Jonathan Shaver