Seth Godin on the Difference Between Leadership and Management

Bestselling author Seth Godin says that “Management and leadership are totally different things. You think you are being a leader, but you are probably being a manager.” I agree.

He goes on to say, “Managers figure out what they want done and get people to do it. Managers try to get people to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper with a few less defects.” But this is not leadership.

What is leadership? You’ll have to watch this seven-minute video to learn more.

By the way, I will be hosting the backstage interviews at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast again this year. I will be interviewing Seth and numerous other top-notch speakers and leaders. The event will be held on May 6, 2011. If you haven’t registered, I’d encourage you to check it out.

Question: Do you agree or disagree with Seth? If so, why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Anonymous

    Right on, we need to be reminded constantly of what role we are playing.

    P.S. I want a pair of “Eye Frames” like Seth. I think they would make me look smarter! Do you know the source?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t. But they are sooooo cool! I also love the contrast of the yellow with the purple.

      • Jeff Randleman

        I wish I needed glasses…. ;)

  • Carla

    shared this one on FB and passed it along to our church Leadership Group (a group of local business people who meet monthly for faith building and business building and networking). We had 40 at our second event so hoping maybe this video will be presented at one of these! thanks for teaching me how important it is to “get out of the way.”

  • Timothy Fish

    I think he is too quick to dismiss the value of managers, but I do like what he said about artists. At some point, one has to realize that the validation of 100 million people or whatever the number is that we throw out there isn’t what is important.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree that managers are important. We need them. I think Seth is simply saying that they are less valuable (not in their person or ultimate worth but in their function) because they are less scarce. Leadership is what is so rare and why it is so valuable.

      Thanks for your comments.

      • Wayne

        Managers are VITAL… But EVERYONE must LEAD FROM THERE CURRENT POSITION! Leading is NOT something other folks do… it’s something we ALL must do.

    • Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      I agree Timothy. I also believe that someone who is a manager first, often makes a better leader. The manager-turned-leader is often so frustrated after experiencing the status quo that they become incredibly passionate about a new paradigm.

      That said, I also think leaders often don’t bother working in the gray areas. To present clarity of vision, leaders are often much more black-and-white than managers and others in their field. This is one of the reason’s Seth is a great leader and likely why he did not bother with the tap dance around the benefits of managers. Thanks for sharing Timothy!

      • Paul Bekkum

        Leaders aren’t about what is black or white. They are people whom are casting a vision and telling people about it as loudly as they can. They are about Technicolor and Dolby surround sound. They are focused on their vision and passionately try and communicate it to others.

    • Bobby Warren

      Timothy, I did not take it that he was dismissing managers, but showing the difference between a leader and a manager. I would say a good leader needs good managers to turn the vision into reality. As Michael said, there is a difference of function. I see leadership as influencing and management as delegating, two different skills and both needed. I am one who sees value in every person and, by extension, every worker. If a company pays you to perform a task, a function, a job, then you are important to the organization, no matter where you are on the organizational chart.

    • Anonymous

      I didn’t take it as him dismissing the value of managers. Rather, he was expressing his own boundaries. He doesn’t want to be a manager. He wants to be a leader. I get that. We all need to be comfortable with our own place, knowing what we want to be and knowing what we don’t want to be.

      Managers who are good managers don’t need to be envious of not being leaders. At the same time, leaders who are good leaders should not be bogged down trying to be managers.

  • robert curtis

    Seth Godin is always insightful. Thank you for posting this. I pray all of us who have responsibility for leading, anyone, including just ourselves, has a chance to see this.

  • Anonymous

    Great video and great insights by Seth. Love it!

    When are you going to fire some customers? Sell a shoe store for a billion dollars? How search changed everything.

    Thanks for sharing it, Michael.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    Find New Customers

  • Kerry Palmer

    I love the idea — “say what you believe and see who follows.” I also like the idea of firing customers. Most people never think this way. Instead, we tend to spend so much time with negativists and naysayers that we can’t focus on really leading. Better to have those few leave and your team flourish than to spend all of your time trying to please everyone.

    Thanks for another great post. I’m looking forward to the Leadercast!

    Kerry Palmer

  • Brett

    I get all excited when I listen to Seth or read his stuff. My challenge is to see how this idea translates into insurance–property and casualty sales. To use a bad metaphor, the iPhone is a nominal phone w/ a bunch of other cool stuff and value adds all over the place. Perhaps the key is treating insurance sales as an excuse to affect clients in other ways. There is only so much insurance specific work that can be completely different–you have to be excellent and price competitive, but how much difference between products?

    The difference has to come from somewhere else.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are asking the right questions, Brett. That is 90% of innovation.

    • Timothy Fish

      I think a key difference between what Seth Godin is marketing and the insurance business is that he is marketing a dream. He reminds me a lot of the television preachers who say that if you send in your money and have enough faith then you’ll be rich just like they are. I suppose, to use his terminology, that is Godin’s own factory, but it seems to be making him money.

    • Dre

      I think you hit it right on! “Perhaps the key is treating insurance sales as an excuse to affect clients in other ways.” One person that I know is doing this type of work in the insurance business is Kevin Smith from State Farm in Chicago.

  • Lily M

    No one challenges me to ‘Poke the box’ like Seth does and his blog is the only one I read or at least scan daily.

    Recently discovered your blog, Michael, while googling Donald Miller’s book (I did the viral marketing prank and I’m surprised how many congrats I got!), and I think I’ll be adding yours to my small fave blogs list. Lots to learn. Thanks.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Lily. I appreciate that.

  • Daniel Decker

    I love this video and the way Seth thinks. He has such a gift for taking complex ideas and drilling them down into simplified thoughts that are easier to understand. He’s not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom either. I like that. The future isn’t conventional.

    • Jeff Randleman

      Those are some of the same reasons I love his stuff as well.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Great insights from Seth!
    Manager is someone who ensures work gets done, focus on day to day tasks, and manage the activities of others. Managers focus on tactical activities and often times have a more directive and controlling approach. To demonstrate characteristics of a leader, one must be more strategically focused and rather than directing employees through tasks, they inspire and motivate employees to drive themselves. Leaders apply emotional intelligence in a way that attains the best work out of their people.
    While a manager receives their authority based on their role, a leader’s authority is innate in their approach. Leaders are also very focused on change.

  • Bruce Lynn

    Bruce Lynn I completely disagree with Seth on this score. He makes the classic mistake (eg. Bennis, Kotter) of simply equating ‘management = bad leadership’ - His constant denigration of ‘management’ is not useful nor insightful.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t see him denigrating managers so much as saying this is different than leadership. As someone who leads a large company, I think we need both. However, leaders are more scare.

      • Heart Press

        Michael, I don’t believe in this “needing both” mantra at all; those “doing” management must be leaders or they were the wrong hire. They justify their existence with numbers, taking up space in the factory system. Creativity wanes.

        Bruce, it is no mistake most US “manufacturing” has been pushed out of the country – purely numbers driven. Oh, and manufacturing = most everything. For instance, beyond medical, next up for the super computer Watson to mostly eliminate, the legal profession. Software can do that MUCH more efficiently and with superior results.

        Lead or die, there is no manage.

        • Michael Hyatt

          I guess we’ll just have to disagree. But I like your passion and your conviction!

        • Bruce Lynn

          Heart – Who’s to say that all those people who pushed manufacturing out of the country weren’t demonstrating ”leadership’ in Seth’s terms. They were being creative (heck, having some guy take a Bic Mac order 1000 miles away…that sounds pretty out of the box to me).

          ‘Lead or die, there is no manage’? Good luck with that. Read some Taleb or any of the many histories of Enron. It is that mantra which led to the compound bubbles of the last decade and the incredible dislocation and economic mess we are in now.

          • Heart Press

            Leaders don’t kill the goose; they find ways to make the pie larger. Steve Jobs, manager or leader? He killed off all US manufacturing to save the best parts of Apple; the part worth leading.

            Greed killed Enron and is the reason for bubbles. Any of us can manage a company by following the numbers, but do you have enough conviction to get rid of your customers??

          • Michael Hyatt

            For the record, this is the kind of healthy debate I like. I applaud you both for focusing on the issues and making your points. Excellent!

          • Bruce Lynn

            ‘Greed’ is the ultimate motivator for ‘leaders’ as ‘fear’ is for ‘managers’. And, one needs to balance both. More positive words are ‘aspiration’ and ‘care’, ‘offense’ and ‘defence’…but they ultimately boil down to ‘greed’ and ‘fear’. ‘Greed’ does not have to be a bad word. I am ‘greedy’ for more world peace and less poverty.

        • Leroy Campbell

          If we define leadership as John Maxwell does (i.e. leadership is influence), then yes, those who manage must be leaders in order to be effective. But let’s take Marcus Buckingham’s definitions of leaders and managers from his book, The One Thing You Need to Know. Marcus says great managers discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it, while great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on it. In this sense, I see the value in both leading and managing. For any organization to be effective, it needs both vision (a common mission) and unity (mutual respect of individual roles).

          • Michael Hyatt

            Thanks, Leroy. This is very helpful.

          • Bruce Lynn

            I love Maxwell’s leadership model, but there is a lot more to his model than just ‘leadership is influence.’ Actually, ‘sales is influence’ and ‘sales is a tool that a leader can do get his objective achieved’ (as in ‘selling an idea’ not ‘selling a widget’). But, good managers need to ‘sell’ too. I don’t concur with Buckingham’s uniqueness versus universal distinction. That’s the distinction between an executor and an academic, or an engineer and a scientist. Not between a leader and a manger…but that is another debate.

          • maureen miller

            Okay THIS I can agree with. Saw all the discussion of Leader vs Managers. Leaders see the big picture for an entire company. Managers see the big picture for the staff they lead. Its just a matter of context.

      • Bruce Lynn

        I don’t see Godin saying a single positive word for ‘managers’ or ‘management’. I agree with you that both are needed. I actually don’t agree that ‘leaders’ are more scarce these days, but it depends on your definition. I would certainly assert that there has been a surplus of ‘leaders’ in the past decade chasing false aspirations without appropriate attention to downside risks and costs leading to our current economic mess.

        • Michael Hyatt

          I don’t think you can pin the economic mess on leadership per se. I would attribute this to bad leadership and bad management. Leadership is not any more of a risk than management. They way these roles are exercised is the issue.

          • Bruce Lynn

            I do think you can pin the economic mess on ‘Leadership’. It wasn’t ‘Bad Management’. If anything, it was ‘non-existent management’. Non-existent because the ‘Leaders’ preached (as Godin is doing) that ‘management’ is for the weak and wimpy and did their best (Very effectively) to eschew and jettison every bit of Management they encountered.

            Leadership optimises upside; Management minimises downside. You need both in the right balance. The hype of ‘Leaders’ saying ‘damn the risks and costs and downsides, just go after your aspirations and it will happen’ was absolutely the gas in the various bubbles of the past decade. It was combined with Leader-talk that poo-poo’d ‘Management’ (as Godin is doing) saying that caution is for wimps, protection is for the backward, and ‘why keep doing compliance?’ (Godin quote). This dynamic is the fundamental driver to the economic melt-down that took place. Enron, WorldCom, dotcoms, Lehman Bros are all the poster children of this perspective on vaunted ‘Leadership’ over derided ‘Management’. That is why, though many think this ‘Leadership vs. Management’ debate is semantic at best and pedantic at worst, is actually a very important and germane one to the business and politics right now.

        • maureen miller

          I don’t think he was saying anything negative as well. I think he said that his tribe was the group of people who are leaders and he’s not interested in working with people who are or want to be managers. Leadership is what excites him not management and it is his choice of who he wants his “customers” to be.

    • Timothy Fish

      I don’t think he really equates management with bad leadership because he does say that he thinks management probably has its place. What I find interesting is that he implies that whatever value management has isn’t worth his consideration. He could very well be right that we need more leaders than we have, but I don’t think we can truly make that determination if we aren’t even willing to study the value of management. I’m reminded of the story of the lion, king of the breasts, who ate all of the other animals and looked around to discover he had no one to be king of. A leader without people to implement his ideas is kind of worthless.

      • Bruce Lynn

        It is my assertion (not his) that what he is doing is listing things that ‘managers do’ that are really just things that ‘bad leaders’ do. Great managers look to the future as much a leaders. Great managers support people as much as leaders.

        It is clear that he simply has no respect for management and I think that is a toxic perspective. “None of these things [what he likes] have to do with compliance…so why do you keep doing it all day.” How irresponisible.

        I do applaud his comments on (a) embracing failure, and (b) obsolescence of the factory model notions, but most of his glib commentary on leadership sounds like it could have been taken from a Jeffrey Skilling speech.

      • maureen miller

        Ditto. That’s what I just said. Management just doesn’t interest him.

  • Bill

    I’m ambivalent about the fact that it takes Seth to bring this out for us – and by us, I mean Christendom – but this has tremendous implications for the way top-down style ministry engages with their laity. No disrespect intended, but an awful lot of pastors are managers.

    The five-fold ministry in Ephesians 4 was supposed to do – for an entire congregation – precisely what Seth is always talking about Leaders doing for the members of an organization.

    Obviously, some members will always function at relatively more ‘empowered’ levels than others. But the motivation should always be to create more instigating parts, and fewer sit-and-listen, do-as-you’re-told grunt workers.

    Thanks for this post.

  • Sally

    I loved this. I loved his las line–Say what you believe and see who follows. I am always a little surprised by people who work hard to try to become what their audience demands. I think if you are trying to become something other than who you are, you have collected the wrong tribe. I see people sometimes becoming so bland, out of fear of offending someone, that they end up interesting no one.

  • Rick Wheatley

    This is a beautiful video! The perspectives, lighting, background effect, focus…. ;)

    Having said that – Godin covers a range of important topics and delivers insight with such focus and economy. Impressed, I’ll be looking for and spreading more Godin interviews to my network.

  • Josh Hood

    I ran across this interview last week and was really challenged by it. Seth (like most great communicators) has a way of making you think, “Duh! That makes so much sense! Why didn’t I think of that?”

    And the outfit is SO purple cow. :)

  • Jürgen Messing

    I think we need management as long as all have eaten Seth’s idea. Actually it’s a call for cultural revolution. But it just an intermediate state for those who don’t get it right now. You can achieve anything by leading, and only something by managing. This kind of leaders, or enablers I like to call them, are the future. Managers like it or not, Seth is right.

  • Kevin Cole

    The thing I can’t get past is the difference between theoretical management or leadership and how it seems to work out much (most?) of the time… I suspect that most people I’ve seen sit in leadership groups were more concerned with feeling like or being seen as leaders than actually leading… And most people I’ve seen sit in management training are there precisely to figure out how to get more out of people without giving more. Most really excellent leaders I’ve come across in the first fifty years of my life haven’t sat in groups like that. They were busy consistently applying a few simple, well-known principles to their lives.

  • Glen Alan Woods

    I have served in the role of a manager, a leader, and a hireling. I grow tired of what seems to be false dichotomies between the former two as I shared last year in a post on my blog. Leaders would do well to honor the managers who execute with excellence. Indeed, the best managers are leaders in the sense that they lead employees to carry out tasks which contribute to the profitability of the business. Excellent employees make continual decisions based on the values passed on from leaders and managers to represent the company well and serve customers. Often, both employees and managers operate with little supervision, pouring blood, sweat, and tears into their efforts for the sake of the company. Many of them are leaders in their own right, offering solutions to problems which the “leader” might not have considered.

    I think that one reason there are so few leaders is that there are so few everyday models of leadership to mentor those who aspire to lead. There are far more who call themselves leaders and who have tricked out name badges and titles, but do little in the way of actual leadership. Instead, they bury their managers and other employees with impossible expectations, and then blame them for not performing. They also slap down suggestions, discouraging innovation from employees because it threatens their sense of control.

    But I agree that true leaders are a rare breed and that more are needed. For someone like me who loves to support leaders, and to lead within the framework of my skillset, it is a breath of fresh air when I actually have opportunity to work with one.

    My rant here is finished. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      It was a great rant! Thanks.

    • Heart Press

      Glen, your rant is right on the money. If they choose, those in the cleaning staff can be leaders. I care little for titles printed on cards or doors; create, innovate, linchpin.

  • Dylan Dodson

    Great video, very innovative!

  • Steve Barkley

    There is not the vast chasm between great management and great leadership that people who make their living writing on this subject like to portray. It is not like you are either one or the other.

    Michael, as CEO of a large company, surely you see yourself filling both roles. Your employees look you for vision, your board looks for a well managed business. Look at your own history. Hasn’t your rise to the CEO position been a result of both effective management and leadership? In my experience, people who effectively combine these qualities are those who are most successful. To dismiss one or the other as “uninteresting” is extremely pious sounding, and will eventually decreases a persons value in an organization.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I do see the necessity of both roles. However, I find that they are rarely exist in the same person.

      While I can manage, it is not what energizes me. Nor is it the thing I am best at. In other words, it is not the highest and best use of me.

      I think this is increasingly why organizations like Apple have gone to a CEO/COO model. They work hand-in-glove. Steve Jobs is the visionary leader of Apple; Tim Cook is the adroit manager who executes on that vision and makes it happen. Both are critical to Apple’s success.

      • Leroy Campbell

        I agree, and I think Tom Rath and Barry Conchie shed some light on this in their book, Strengths Based Leadership. They identify four domains of leadership strength: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. Personally, I’m a strategic thinker. Though my educational background is in management, I find myself much more in the strengths zone when I’m casting vision or initiating.

      • Bruce Lynn

        Great point. I have discovered a few executives that I would assert are great managers and great leaders – Red Auerbach, Konosuke Matsushita, Allan Leighton, Richard Noble.

        The complementary partnership model is a great alternative strategy for achieving the needed balance. That’s what Microsoft did with Gates and Ballmer.

        • Michael Hyatt

          These are indeed good examples. I have known a few, too. I think the point we are both making is that you have to have both, regardless of what the structure may look like.

    • TNeal

      Unfortunately I translated “management” into “maintenance” and that through the eyes of a pastor. I do see the value of visionary leadership and detailed management in the same way I see the value of a compass and an anchor on a ship, and I’m not equating management with an anchor. I’m just noting both have their places in sailing.

      Some people can wear multiple hats within a company but, IMHO, most feel comfortable wearing one hat or two at the most. The trick is making sure you’re wearing the right hat, the one that fits your personality and skill set.

      I agree “uninteresting” can be a loaded statement and even denigrating. At least until you give it further thought. Start a sentence with the word “calculus” and my eyes glaze over. I don’t think less of the person who loves the subject. But for me, it’s uninteresting.

      “I was reading a Danielle Steel book” has the same effect as well.

  • BenCotten

    Interesting that this was posted today as well. This interview may tie all this together?

  • Leah Adams

    I’m going to have to go back and listen again. There is a LOT to process in that 7 minute video. This is what I really loved:’ just because the tide is out doesn’t mean there is less water in the ocean.’ Whoa! What a great quote.

  • Duke Dillard

    Seth always makes me think. Thanks for posting it, Michael. A good book that shows the importance of good managers is First, Break All the Rules. Best book on showing the vital role managers play in fulfilling a leader’s vision. Leaders are vital but so are followers.

    • Leroy Campbell

      I agree. This book shows why those who “lead from the middle” are most influential in the lives of employees on the front line.

  • Randy Bosch

    Among other maxims, Seth stated, “Leadership is embracing the failure of your people if it leads to growth.”
    The statement requires your careful consideration despite its ambiguity. The leader can play the “if it” card that often replaces the leader’s responsibility and accountability?

    Think about the ethical challenges! Sin boldly that grace may abound?

    Is it merely a less-than optimal choice of words? No, “Embracing Failure” has become the new mantra among leadership stars, a branding short-cut that sells short-circuiting the hard efforts of training, empathy, reasonable standards (not arbitrary rules), warning signs, protection, prevention, mitigation, recovery, the identification/realization of opportunities found through testing, experimenting, iterative development, errors that do not originate in negligence/hubris, and, yes, failures when they do occur. In court, someone would wisely say, “would you please restate that?”.

    • TNeal

      I certainly took the statement to mean, “Don’t be afraid to try”–the Thomas Edison let’s-try-everything-until-we-shed-some-light-on-the-subject effort.

      A young man I’ve coached said he did so much better in practice than in a game situation. Why? Because the pressure to succeed in the spotlight made him tight. He feared failing.

      As a coach, I want my young men to learn failure’s not the end of life. It just isn’t. It’s okay to mess up. Learn from the mistake and move on.

      If my players aren’t afraid, then they can play with joy and passion. They can love the game.

      And since the NFL may or may not play games in 2011, high school football might have brighter lights than usual to play under.

  • Carl

    Ever since your “survey” – I have found that I have not been reading your blog as much as I use to.

    7 minute videos take a bit too much time.

    • Sally

      :) Of course you may be one of those customers that Mr. Hyatt will have to fire, in order to spend more time for pampering others.

    • Michael Hyatt

      What can I say? I’m not for everyone. ;-)

  • John Richardson

    Boy Michael, now you are causing ranting and raving on the weekend! It was down right controversial! Great discussion today! I do like Seth’s point of view. Unfortunately there are a lot more managers, facilitators, and coordinators than true leaders.

    Speaking of controversy, now that I have an iPad 2, I might have to challenge your MacBook Air for usability. This new iPad is fast, really intuitive, and the smart cover rocks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I can’t wait to try an iPad 2. I’m enough of a technophile to just enjoy technology for technology’s sake. Bring it on the cruise!

      • John Richardson

        I waited in line for three hours on Friday night at the Apple Store. I literally got the last iPad 2 in the store. I was trying to make up my mind which one to get. When there’s only one left that made the decision easy (16g, white, wi-fi).
        While the first iPad was great for media consumption, this one will be a game changer. It’s really fast, and with two cameras it will open up all sorts of possibilities. With the addition of an Apple TV or HDMI cable, this will be the thing to have in most boardrooms. Add in the iMovie app and you can do a video blog in just minutes. To top it off, you can use the smart cover as a prop for Facetime.
        As a technology guy, I’m pretty hard to impress anymore, but this is really going to stir things up. A lot of people are going to be reading Thomas Nelson books on this!

        • Michael Hyatt

          I love the idea of people reading our books on this!

  • Kathy

    Loved this.
    Leadership is influence.
    One way our church is trying to influence the local community is through a new and radical movement. We’ll be holding Sunday night church services in a local, popular club…ministering to the people most churches would sooner forget and leading people to Christ through influence and example.
    Check us out at
    Thanks for your entry!

  • Patricia Zell

    I like Seth’s last words, “Say what you believe and see who follows.” Anyone who wants to facilitate change in our world has to take risks. As an artist whose medium is words and as a believer in Christ, I am in the process of saying I believe, but I’m not particularly interested in people following me. I want people to know and understand the depth of God’s absolute love for each and every one of us. I want them to find the power of that love which will lead to the life that is more abundant that the loss, death, and destruction that the forces of evil are slamming our world with.

  • Jim Whitaker

    Great video. Thanks for sharing. Often times, I hear that managers manager things and leaders lead people. We need both, but they need to recognize what their role is and make sure to keep their eye on the ball or people as the case may be.

  • Jklewis54

    All leaders must be managers, but not all managers are leaders

    • Bruce Lynn

      JK – Huh? Says who? Based on what? What kind of a statement is that? Are you talking about ‘leaders/managers’ as roles or personal attributes?

  • Cyberquill

    I have a laptop, so I don’t need a factory. Good to know. Now what? Oh, right. Be innovative. Let me make a note of that … My tables—meet it is I set it down… (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5)

  • Sk 5641

    So wonderful. Loved the explanation, he was so precise.

  • Michael A. Robson

    You’re gonna make me use Safari to get the video to work? hehe, damn

  • Wattafw

    I agree with Seth’s comments and thoughts. As our world continues to change, old ways of doing business, leading is changing. His words are a confirmation, especially in the area of setting out and see who is following. I am in the midst of this now and watching it unfold before my eyes. Meaning as a leader, taking my eyes and attention off of those who are not following and placing them on who is following. This is in the avenue of my online presence and leading through teaching.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Seth consistently inspires me with his insights.

    In my current role I am subject to corporate direction but I’m also at liberty (within bounds) to set the direction for my organizations and for the individuals. Within those bounds I’m working with each team member to define & achieve their personal goals.

    I *must* fill the roles of “Leader”, “Manager”, and “Coach” to herd the team through the daily challenges of developing products. It would be great to find myself free from “managerial duties” but necessity dictates some of the demands on my time. As much as possible I’m trying to get my team members to manage themselves.

    Meanwhile, I dream of the day I’m liberated from the shackles of the corporate world.

  • lincolnparks

    I see it all the time Michael. The company I currently work for has Managers that want you “IN” the office. I can’t understand why to this day. The reason I know is control and Seth has really hit the nail on the head. This is the simple reason why I am creating my tribe. People that want to be Leaders and Entrepreneurs, from anywhere in the world. Not just in a brick and mortar building. Micheal, how is your organization embracing this?

    Thanks for sharing..

  • Jeanne Farrington

    I enjoyed listening to this video, Michael. Leadership is important, and I also think that management is important, but I can understand why someone would find leadership more difficult, more rare & therefore more interesting. Plus, I really enjoyed Seth’s perspective about ways the world has changed. It’s true that one can work wonders with a laptop & without a big brick factory.

    And then at the end Seth says, “Say what you believe and see who follows.” Hmm… That gave me pause.

    “Here’s what I believe….” a leader might say (or a would-be leader). And then there’s the question of what supports that belief. Was it intuition? “Common wisdom”? Supported by science? Something I read in a book or that someone I respect said to me? Perhaps I believe something because I have just a little information & I have no idea about the pertinent things I do not know. Or maybe I believe something because someone lied to me or was just repeating nonsense heard at the water cooler.

    If I have a lot of followers, that doesn’t mean I’m a good leader (or leading people in a worthy direction). Several historical examples come to mind in both politics and business.

    Anyway, it was just the last line of an interesting talk, and I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way… just made me think.

    • Bruce Llynn

      Jeanne – I think you need to distinquish (a) the quality of ‘leadership’ per se (ie. is it good), from (b) the quality of the outcome. Good leaders can lead followers to bad things. It is not the ‘leadership’ activity/skill that is at fault, but the objective. I guess it depends on the scope of your definition of good. Is a conqueror a good leader if they are highly effective in that role of leading a group to conquer (but in the process kill, terrorize and commit otrocious acts). Maybe ‘good’ is too vague a word. Maybe ‘effective’ is more appropriate. And our medals for ‘good’ leadership combine effectiveness with wholesomeness of outcomes.

  • TNeal

    Wow! A great Sunday message that comes from somewhere other than the pulpit. I have heard of Seth Godin, Tribes, etc., but this is my first actual exposure to the man.

    When he said, “Leadership means embracing the failure of your people if it leads to growth,” I stopped the video feed and “rewound.” I needed to hear that a couple of times and let the message sink into my puny thoughts. That’s a big, scary idea–cultivating a climate where it’s all right to fail.

    Experience and the wisdom of others say that’s a good idea to embrace.

  • steve reid

    (Read many comments, but not all so perhaps this is redundant.)

    Feeling like Seth is jamming on ‘management’? Arguing for both mgmt and ldrship?

    Feelings of angst which come after listening to Seth are often sourced from someone considering their ‘existing’ organization or similar. The thought of ‘none or reduced management’ is scary to many of them because it is a ‘reality’ they are considering, not an ideal model. Likely these feelings are felt from ‘existing managers and even leaders’ who are striving toward a more positive goal.

    In their ‘reality’, the leadership has likely not cast a clear vision, consistent values have not been established (or observed) for decision making, and the game plans are not known (or perhaps don’t even exist) by which the players are to measure themselves against.

    So in the ‘leadership vacuum’, these people are in the position to have to ‘estimate on behalf of the leadership’, that vision, those values and plans for the benefit of their people (and themselves). Their ‘management’ activities are making up for the deficiencies of the leadership in a non-ideal environment.

    In a perfect environment, there would be little or less need for ‘management’. But since its not, we will struggle toward doing the best we can. (…said Adam to Eve…)

  • Brian Kuhn

    Well, I think managers and leaders play critical roles. I’ve gone through the shift from mainly managing to mainly leading – it’s a difficult shift when you’re in the middle – feels like a split purpose. But in my experience, to be a successful leader you need great managers to take care of the details, keep things moving, bring people together to problem solve, etc. If leaders ignore the importance of that piece, their credibility suffers greatly. People stop trusting them. So, for me, it’s both-and for leadership and management. I do agree with Seth that they are very different practices though. Thanks for sharing this.

  • caroline wilson from NZ

    i love his focus on people…there certainly needs to be a fine balance between the need for people to drive and achieve a vision….funny how God commands us to love and serve others, here is a man who was almost bankrupt for six years and his drive was to see people grow ‘quantum leaps’ or accomplish something….this is a great reminder of our responsibility to love and serve people, we don’t always realise the blessings that come from this…..Seth sures has…..Seth u da man!!!!

  • Randy Bosch

    That’s certainly the best approach, and an appropriate “put the best construction on it” consideration!

    The challenge comes from those who do not provide positive mentoring and practical application as with practice sessions, training and well-taught procedures, but instead celebrate, encourage, demand and profit from the religion of “Failure is necessary for success, you cannot be successful without it” – not part of life and original sin, but a positive, required asset without which success is not possible or earned.

    I read last year of a major east coast university with a required class in failure, and the more assignments you fail, the higher your grade. Words have meaning, and meanings cannot be changed without changing behaviors and relationships. The advocates of “failure is good” reap personal gain through selling a “product” with often very negative consequences to teammates, managers, employees, self and leaders.

  • Tim DeTellis

    I agree because leaders lead organizations and managers run organizations. Leadership requires to be out of the boat so you can see a destination perspective. Management stays in the boat to keep the boat on course to the desired outcome set by the leader.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s an excellent metaphor, Tim. Thanks.

    • Mighty

      I agree Tim. In this context, leadership then also means entrepreneurship–pioneering things, turning dreams (vision) to reality by getting people to work on it. Leadership and management may be different but they are complementary.

    • Don McAllister

      That is a great metaphor! Leaders cast vision; Managers make that vision happen. You can be both manager and leader of course, but I see benefits to the division. Thanks!

  • Phillip Kemp

    I have been following your blog for months and I just had to say thanks for all the great leadership help. I am constantly moved and motivated. Thanks

  • Peter Hoppe

    I love how Seth challenges us to increase our innovation and independent spirit while decreasing our dependent, “survival” tendencies.

    A friend from work told me about your blog, and as the McDonalds advertisements say, “I’m lovin’ it!” : )

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Peter. I appreciate that.

  • PoulAndreassen

    Thanks for the kind words. Another golden article.

  • Tom Johnson-Medland

    Talk about integrity of thought! Wow! The strength and consistency of strength throughout this entire leadercast is intense and compelling. I hope people can catch this vision and see leadership as an art – an evolving expression that seeks to communicate but move as well. Thanks for posting this and keep ‘em coming. This is exactly the kind of stuff I am feeding on as I finish my new book Feed My Sheep; Lead My Sheep. Peace, tjm+

  • Jeremie Kubicek

    Thanks for sharing this Mike. We appreciate you helping GiANT change the way people think in regards to a better way of leadership. Excited for your interviews at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeremie. I hope I can interview YOU at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast about your new book.

  • Derek Bell

    I believe there is danger in separating the two…management and leadership as does Jim Collins and his teacher Peter Drucker. I actually think they are both co-equal DNA strands of a level-5 leader. See Jim Collins thought below from Management: Revised.

    During a discussion in graduate school, a professor challenged my first-year class: manager and leaders–are they different? The conversation unfolded something like this:

    “Leaders set the vision; managers just figure out how to get there,” said one student.

    “Leaders inspire and motivate, whereas managers keep things organized,” said another.

    “Leaders elevate people to the highest values. Managers manage the details.”

    The discussion revealed an underlaying worship of “leadership” and a disdain for “management.” Leaders are inspired. Leaders are large. Leaders are the kids with black leather jackets, sunglasses, and sheer unadulterated cool. Managers, well, they’re the somewhat nerdy kids, decidedly less interesting, lacking charisma. And of course, we all wanted to be leaders, and leave the drudgery of management to others.

    We could not have been more misguided and juvenile in our thinking. As Peter Drucker shows right here (Management: Revised), in these very pages, the very best leaders are first and foremost effective managers. Those who seek to lead but fail to manage will become either irrelevant or dangerous, not only to their organizations but to society.

    Jim Collins – the forward to Management: Revised, Harper Collins, 2008

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Derek, I agree with you… leaders must first learn to manage, but leadership is the step above management, in my opinion. Once you’ve learned how to manage (wield the power), then you learn how to lead people (when people willingly follow you, because they want to, rather than because you’re their boss).

  • Jeff Randleman

    Great stuff! Thanks for posting!

  • Jerry

    Thank you for sharing the video. Seth makes some great distinctions between the 2 words and it’s worth putting more thought into how I lead or manage people.

  • Nathan

    I agree with this 100%! I have somewhat disdain for the term manager- it conveys the message that the manager barely manages to get by. Manager seems to be a term that is intrinsically self motivated, but a leader tends to be selflessly motivated. A true leader works for subordinates to enable them to have the tools to excel and exceed the objectives placed before them. A leader takes care of the team, so the team can take care of the mission.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Seth gave some great information in this video.

    The first being “Sometimes you have to fire your customers”. I first heard this at my current job. Some coworkers were talking about how you sometimes have to let a customer go. Coming from a retail environment, that thought blew my mind. In that setting, it was always about pleasing every customer. I think we’re seeing the downfall of a lot of retail stores because they’re unwilling to fire certain customers.

    The other point that really resonated with me is that we’re on a “race to the bottom”. That’s the train of thought I’ve been raised with. “Why go with the more expensive item? The generic will do the same thing”. I understand that the generic item will normally work the same as the more expensive version. However, the more expensive one may last longer or be made with American parts and labor or etc… Or “Why buy a CD when you can get the MP3 for half the price”?… I think this one is about the experience. Opening up a new CD can be exhilarating. Flipping through the pamphlet is great, holding the physical media is awesome.

    I think finding the thing to get the customer excited will be the thing that gets up to RACE TO THE TOP rather than the bottom.

  • Jack Lynady

    Did anyone else pick up on the references to how we practice our faith?

    At the 4:00 minute mark, he says “the idea of building a building where everyone goes to do what they are told…is a new idea” (paraphrased). Is there implications here for the Big “C” church and the small “c” church? 

    • Jack Lynady

      I guess what I am asking, Is there anything relevant in what he said here for us as “church leaders”? For me, there definitely is. 

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  • Gail

    Why is it that leaders seem to look down on managers? Maybe it’s because “leadeship” is a big fad in business at the moment. Yes, I agree leadership and management are different. But I don’t agree that either leadership or management are better. They are different. They each have their place. Every leader benefits from the managers who follow them and manage resources so that the leader’s visions become reality. Let’s not forget that great managers have their own special skills and talents and do things that most leaders can’t do, and do it persistantly, constantly, year after year. As I leader, I am awed at what great managers bring to our business, things outside my mental space and skill set.
    Leadership and management are different and both are needed for success.

  • Roger Brady

    Intrigued by the assertion that managers decide where they want to go and get people to do it. True in terms of tactical, day-to-day actions that need to be taken, but Leaders must provide the vision which is the strategic course of an organization. There may be a lot of ways to “manage” an organization’s way to a goal, but establishment of the goal has as much to do with leadership as management. I guess I’m suggesting that while management and leadership are very different things, the line between the two is not always as bright and clean as sometimes implied. The leader, whom I assume will be accountable for results, must be deeply involved in the “what are we doing” along the way. My experience in large organizations is that accomplishing the goal is very much a team sport, but if it goes wrong and there is accountability to be determined the leader will find himself/herself alone in the arena. The trick is to be engaged in ways that are helpful to both the people and the mission without stifling the development or innovation of the people at lower levels in the organization.

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  • Cyndy Lavoie

    This is a great interview. I so appreciate the delineation made between managers and leaders. What strikes me is that managing, while difficult and a skill set all its own, takes less courage than leading. Which is why we tend to resort to it as a base-line denominator, our default setting so to speak, when we are too far past our comfort zone or things are getting messy. I know for me, to show up as a leader, rather than a manager takes more of ‘me’. I have to show up more engaged from my core, with greater focus and passion, and I am not always so sure how I am doing. It simply isn’t as easy to quantify the effects of leading as opposed to managing… something a little too nebulous that leaves us nervous. Personally I am naturally more of a leader than a manager though, so going forward I take encouragement to consistently be a leader, refusing to default to manager, and I know that I will be more settled, and those I am serving will experience me in a consistent manner. Thanks for posting this, simply fabulous!

  • Cyndy Lavoie

    This is a great interview. I so appreciate the delineation made between managers and leaders. What strikes me is that managing, while difficult and a skill set all its own, takes less courage than leading. Which is why we tend to resort to it as a base-line denominator, our default setting so to speak, when we are too far past our comfort zone or things are getting messy. I know for me, to show up as a leader, rather than a manager takes more of ‘me’. I have to show up more engaged from my core, with greater focus and passion, and I am not always so sure how I am doing. It simply isn’t as easy to quantify the effects of leading as opposed to managing… something a little too nebulous that leaves us nervous. Personally I am naturally more of a leader than a manager though, so going forward I take encouragement to consistently be a leader, refusing to default to manager, and I know that I will be more settled, and those I am serving will experience me in a consistent manner. Thanks for posting this, simply fabulous!

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  • Les Dossey

    Seth doesn’t mince words, nor get hung up in non interesting stuff. That’s what makes his writing and interviews so relevant, powerful and attractive.
    Without mentioning our Very Cool and Wise Creator™ Seth explained how to align your role and your business with God. So much of what is done in traditional business is about binding people instead of freeing them to create, to make mistakes, to strive for higher levels of this and that.
    Leading by artistry – Beautiful!

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Leading by artistry… that’s an interesting concept. You don’t think of the artist-type as the leader-type, but I think it can be true.

  • Les Dossey

    Oops – hit the comment button twice.

  • Android Calendar

    Most people who are managers are not true leaders, and when someone who is below them that is a born leader, they tend to be harder on them, it is ironic when a coworker who is a born leader has more influence over others in their department, that can lead to a lot of conflict if the coworker who is a leader is not wise about what he or she does or says!

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  • Steve Sorensen

    Seth Godin is right, but the problem is that it’s much easier to train managers than to liberate leaders, and people tend to do what’s easier.

    I first saw the lesson Seth is teaching about the radical difference between leaders and managers about 20 years ago. I worked for a company that did a great job of creating managers who kept crying out for employees to be leaders. The problem was that the dominant paradigm was to manage employees for more work at less cost. Groupthink prevailed and demonstrating leadership was actually risky in that environment. Both sales and profitability slipped until the company ended up downsizing by eliminating the jobs of the longest-serving employees, in order to improve the financials and make the company attractive to a buyer.

    A leader has to be willing to risk security, but few are willing to do that. A great illustration of that comes from a friend of mine who teaches a class in entrepreneurial leadership at a university. She sometimes brings entrepreneurs into the classroom to share their experience. She says that often, the first question these university students who “aspire” to be entrepreneurs ask the visiting business owners is, “Are you hiring?”

    • Bruce Lynn

      For every company like the one you describe, Steve, I can show you a dozen dot.coms, Enron-clone, financial institution speculator, oil company corner-cutters that show all the ‘leadership’ in the world according to your and Seth’s definition. They ‘risk security’ every day. The result is calamatous causing pain and hardship for countless individuals.

      Effective stewardship, must be a balance between ‘leadership’ and ‘management’.

      I’m also bemused by your comment on the university students. Are you being intentionally ironic that the students supposedly trained for entrepreneurship are seeking a spoon-fed pay-check route to such an exciting environment? Or are you underscoring their naivte that those students so eager to join the leadership-inspired start-ups have a higher chance of being unemployed when the business goes belly up (as most start ups do).

  • Robert Ewoldt

    I’m intrigued by his idea of firing your bad customers, because that seems so counter-cultural, but I think he’s right; if you fire the 20% of your customers who are causing you the most headaches, then you can devote that time to nurturing your better customers.

    • James

      @Robert – The idea of firing customers really struck a nerve with me too! I’ve seen organizational resources wasted and time and energy figuratively flushed down the drain in a futile attempt to satisfy customers who are both insatiable as well as low value in terms of revenue generated.

      Since energy and time are finite, the opportunity cost of spending so much time dealing with customers who aren’t generating profit for the organization is that we ignore those who are helping the organization move forward and grow.

      This is another reason why target marketing is important! Seek out the customers who you are able to help by expending the least amount of energy.

      The difference between managers and leaders is that leaders know that the right people make all the difference in the success of the organization. In order to free yourself of crippling managerial duties so you can focus on more of a leadership role, it’s important to realize that picking the right people goes beyond just your subordinates: It extends to include the people with whom you do business as well!

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  • Kim Levings

    You can get the job done today with managers. You get to the final destination by having leaders. Managers can manage really, really well and go nowhere. Leaders can lead really, really well but they still need managers to help along the way. Totally agree with Seth on this one!  Too many managers think they are leaders simply because of the job title, but let’s not overlook that leaders can sometimes be lousy managers. A final result is only as good as the management of the steps along the way.

  • Christopher Battles

    Thank you Michael and Seth.
    The terms get used as if they are the same, which is not a good thing.
    Thank you for expanding on this.
    I just Buffered this for tomorrow.

    K, bye

  • Alec Watson

    I absolutely agree with Seth on the difference between leaders and managers. The world needs both, in fact everyone has the potential to be both a great leader AND a great manager. Unfortunately, in today’s world we see people in leadership position who are anything but great leaders. I would recommend anyone in a leadership position or aspiring to be a great leader take 6 or 7 minutes every day and watch this video and remind themselves of what it means.

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  • Christopher Battles

    I heard the phrase “managers are not leaders” awhile back and it stuck with me.
    Thanks for reposting this.

    K, bye

  • Mark Mansfield

    I agree to some degree with what he says, on leadership against management I agree with all. 

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  • Socorro Galusha Luna

    Amazing. Say what you believe and see who listens. Be a leader, not a manager.

  • Paul Jolicoeur

    Why hadn’t I heard that before! Awesome!

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    The thing I love about Seth Godin is how he can inspire your imagination to new things. Thanks for sharing this Michael, I’ve not got a weeks worth of solid ideas to make a difference.

  • Craig Desmarais

    So inspiring.

  • Nico Engelbrecht

    I like the part where he says that a “Leader” start something, but then he let’s the “Management” take it over and run the thing (snippet from my own thoughts – while the “Leader” is at the steering wheel)

  • danieltrinidad82

    So I thought I was just managing people…I didn’t know its leadership…hmmmm. Thanks Seth and Mike for clarifying the difference of leadership and management.

  • rachel

    Amen…Seth you are a breath of fresh air in a polluted world…my cup runneth over with your words…thank you!

  • Brett Smith

    Completely derailed my intended plans for the New Year. I have leaders’ dreams. I have a manager’s role.

  • Terrie Coleman

    This was great. I attended this Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2011 at a local a simulcast gathering. Great experience. Love his last comment, “Say what you believe and see who follows.”

  • Melinda Todd

    Thanks for having Seth! “Say what you believe and see who follows.” I like this. A. LOT. I needed to hear that.