top of page

Leadership & Management

Hello, everybody, welcome to a new series of blogs and videos called 'The Coaching Conversation' presented by me, Graham Whiley. I've been coaching business leaders for the last two decades and in this series, we're going to explore some of the things I've seen and learnt in that two decades, that will hopefully help you see how you can become more focused, more effective, and happier in your life.

So, it's now time to sit back, relax and enjoy The Coaching Conversation.



Today, I'd like to talk about leadership and management. As a coach, in virtually every coaching programme I've run, there has been some form of requirement from the coachee to improve either or both of those skills. Often, they mix them up, often they start interchanging them as though they're the same thing. So, the first thing we need to do is explain to you the difference between leadership and management in case you're not so sure, and explain where they fit into being an effective business leader in today's world. Along the way, I'll probably give you some examples of the sorts of situations I've seen people find themselves in, and how they've found their way out of them.

So, back to the beginning, and the definition of leadership and the definition of management.

Management is the organisation of resources to produce outputs. It's the organisation of people, time, money, machines, materials; whatever it takes to do whatever is required to get done. And the quality of a manager is measured by the amount of output he produces, versus the number of inputs he puts in. That could be anybody in a position of authority because one of the aspects of management is that it comes from authority - you are the boss, you are the person responsible, authorised, required to get the outputs done.

Now, managers can manage in many, many different ways; they can be dictatorial, they can be participative, they can be coaching, they can be affiliative, they can do it in many different ways. But the actual process is organising those resources to singularly produce those outputs. And managers in that context, are professionals, there are people who have to hone their skills to get all those things done. And so very often, really, really good managers have very, very specific skills associated with very specific trades or professions, industries or sectors. But the generality of it is that these people are able to manage people because they understand what the outputs are and what it takes by way of inputs to produce them.

Leadership is an entirely different thing.

Leadership is identifying and creating a vision that other people willingly choose to buy into. It doesn't come from authority; it doesn't come from being the boss - you can't compel someone to follow your vision - you can persuade them, you can show them, you can excite them, you can motivate them, but you can't make them.

A leader is someone who is naturally charismatic, someone who's naturally capable of generating interest in the things that they say or they do so that people want to follow them - they choose to follow them. It's a completely different focus, it's a completely different job. And whilst a leader can be a manager and a manager can be a leader, they're not the same thing.

In many ways, it's similar to sales and marketing - people combine them together and talk about ‘sales and marketing’; and whilst they're clearly linked, they are not the same thing. Marketing is a specific, focused profession, and selling is something else. So, in the same way, being a great manager doesn't make you a great leader. Being a great leader doesn't make you a great manager.

There are lots of anecdotes around about how good some of the well-known leaders are as managers- is Richard Branson really a good manager? Or, is he just a super talented leader, really capable of creating vision and employs people who are really good at execution?

If you look at the connectivity between leadership and management; without a leader, without a vision of where you're going, how do you know what you want to do? How do you know what the outputs are going to be? How do you know what you've got to make? Without a vision, without a ‘this is where we're going, guys, this is what we're going to be when we grow up, this is what we're trying to achieve’. Without that spirit and momentum and focus; where does the manager know what to do? Where does the manager know where to put the priorities? Where does the manager know how to organise the resources.

Leadership is about direction, it's about the North Star, it's about the where we're going to, it can include - and usually does include - the ‘why we're doing this’ for these reasons.

They might be very money-orientated reasons; they may be very socially responsible reasons - there could be any reason - but there are compelling reasons as to why you're going in this direction. Without that leadership, you absolutely cannot have effective management.

As a coach, I very often find senior managers, business leaders, who have not understood that definition. And they've not understood the difference so they've not honed those two skills separately. They've mixed up management with the word leadership, and think they have to manage in a particular way to be a leader. Or, they don't do the leadership base and they just micromanage people, or they over-manage a situation that really just needs direction.

In many organisations (and I say this, having coached people at all levels from around the world) some of the best leaders that I've met, are absolutely nothing more than salespeople. Because haven't got a clue how to actually get anything done. There was a gentleman I knew who sold his business for a life-changing sum of money. The business had never ever made any profit, but it had been a start-up and he created it. He created this vision of how he was going to revolutionise that industry, and a big trade partner or competitor bought into that vision and took it on - and they followed that vision. They quadrupled the business. But it was their management expertise that turned that vision into a reality. There was no way that entrepreneur was ever going to be able to do that - that would just simply wouldn't have happened - he would have probably gone bust.

A lady I know runs a professional services business and she is charismatic, but she drives her staff crazy with her latest idea of what she wants to do with her organisation. What they don't see - because she pops up with these ideas with fitting regularly - is that these ideas are extremely coherent. She does have a major long-term plan, and what she's doing is laying breadcrumbs for them to follow, not treating them like idiots. But, as ideas develop and the organisation progresses, she leaves more breadcrumbs and it goes further forward. In her head, she has said it all out loud to a very senior management team - she knows exactly where she wants the organisation to be in five years' time - but she's taking them (the whole organisation) on that journey. She's quite a good manager in the sense that she does know how to organise resources and get things done, but she's got better people than her to do that, and she spends most of her time either creating the vision or involving other stakeholders, suppliers and clients to actually make it a reality or to sell it so that they buy into it as well.

So, management and leadership are not the same things. They are linked; you can be really good at one or the other, but it is great if you're good at both. Organisations absolutely need both, and will probably flounder with only one of the two.

So, there you have it, the next edition of The Coaching Conversation. I hope you found it interesting. I hope you found it useful. You can find out more about our coaching programmes at

If you want to reach out you can send me an email at you can book a free 30-minute coaching session at which will give you a really good feel for how coaching can help you. Thanks, Graham Whiley


SUBSCRIBE to 'The Coaching Conversation' Podcast:

Watch our video series here:



bottom of page