Management vs. Leadership: The Great Debate

August 13, 2018 Scott Miller


Is it really even a debate anymore?

Just ask yourself, when did you ever want to report to a manager versus a leader? Not what did you need, but what did you want?

There’s no debate. Nobody in history ever said, “Boss, I just wish you would manage me more.” I mean seriously—we’re still having this conversation?

We are—even inside our own company, in fact—the world’s expert authority on the topic.

We’re in the process of writing a new book at FranklinCovey. It’s one of the things we’re superb at doing. Who better in the world than FranklinCovey to author a book about how first-level leaders, often new to leadership, can follow six critical practices to ensure their teams win.

We’re not in debate about the content of the book. We’ve clearly landed on six, not seven or five practices. We have our stories, data, research, and client case studies all buttoned down. The authors, Todd, Victoria, and Rob, have been working feverishly, and we have a publisher and launch date all set (fall of 2019).

So what’s in debate you ask? Just something small like…the title of the book.

Some want to title it Everyone Deserves a Great Manager. Other people want to title it Everyone Deserves a Great Leader.

To quote a wise, bald man (take your pick on this one—Stephen R. Covey or Seth Godin), you manage things and you lead people. Management is important, critical even. Budgets. Timelines. Equipment. Inventory. All need management. Humans, every organization’s most precious asset—by degrees of incalculable magnitude—don’t need or want to be managed. But they do in fact need and want to be led. Heck—I’m 50, an executive officer in a global public company with significant responsibility, and I absolutely still need, and most importantly want, to be led. I am a leader, and I still need someone to lead me.

No board wants to be managed by their investors or shareholders.

No CEO wants to be managed by their board.

No team member wants to be managed by their director.

And the receptionist doesn’t want to be managed by anyone.

For that matter, my three sons don’t want to be managed by their father either. Rascals! (I swear the oldest is studying collective bargaining tactics and holding late-night coaching sessions with the younger two. I knew it was a bad decision to put them all in one bedroom, regardless of how big it is).

No one wants to be managed, while some may need it, but everyone wants to be led.

For more on the nuances of leadership, management, and engagement, listen to my interview with Dustin Matthews on the Wealth Fit podcast:



Equip first-level leaders with the essential skills and tools to lead a team. Learn more about The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team by registering for a complimentary webcast. 

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott J. Miller is Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Marketing Officer for FranklinCovey. Scott has been with the company for 20 years, and previously served as Vice President of Business Development and Marketing. His role as EVP and Chief Marketing Officer caps 12 years on the front line, working with thousands of client facilitators across many markets and countries.

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