Seth Godin on the Difference between Leadership and Management

Leadership and management are terms we use in every day life and in all sorts of different circumstances. Usually, we hear these words used to describe things going on in corporations, in boardrooms and corner offices, in the “c-suite.” We also hear them used on television with commentators talking about leadership in sport, and management of football ask what does it mean to manage? This helps change our perceptions of things into perceptions of actions, and there can be no leadership or management without leaders and managers leading and managing. That works for me.

So when I present talks and workshops with participants, I ask them to define these two terms themselves, then compare answers. When I hear an explanation about actions and people, rather than systems and processes and “things,” I know I have leading minds in the room. If I hear lots of descriptions about techniques, skills, and processes, the chances are, I’m addressing managers.

Once that exercise is done, I show this video, and the room just goes up a whole other level; then, we’re set for the day.

Watch Seth Godin explain so simply and accurately the difference between leadership and management here.



More about Seth Godin

As the author of 18 books on leadership, marketing, and changes in the business world, Seth Godin certainly qualifies as an expert on leadership. He is highly demanded as a public speaker and writes a popular blog. His statements on leadership are simple yet profound. We investigate the leadership of Seth Godin.

Leadership Expert

Leadership Expert

Take responsibility

According to Seth Godin, “Managers want authority. Leaders take responsibility.” While the difference seems clear, they can become blurry in practice. As a leader, are you constantly trying to get more from your team or are you guiding and encouraging as you work alongside them? It can be easy to slip into the role of order giver, but a true leader takes responsibility for his team and helps them achieve goals.

Be willing to change

Godin speaks and writes a great deal about the importance of change and the willingness to lead changes rather than attempt to avoid them. Our society is rapidly changing, and one who desires to lead needs to be at the forefront of the action. Instead of fighting change, consider how you can best use changes to your team’s advantage. Where will the change lead? Can you use it to increase efficiency or improve a process? Those who do not change are left behind, and few can lead from behind.

Be creative

As a marketing leader, Godin has demonstrated how creatively thinking about what consumers really want can lead to success. Even relatively new ideas, like email marketing campaigns, are already old thinking, according to Godin. Instead, he has taken innovative steps, like offering his book “Idea Virus” for free to reveal the demand that is created with free ideas. He encourages thinking about doing things that nobody has done.

These are the ideas that get attention and eventually lead to success. Once you have a great idea, don’t bury it in concerns about failure. Boldly move forward and lead the tribe.

[does anybody care about Seth’s split infinitive above?]

[Nah, thought not!]