Forget about the rulebook

There isn’t one. 

In this post on leadership and management I introduced a description of leadership and management. 

The key thing on the management side is the “policy and process framework” to comply with. The rulebook. 

The bigger the “leadership” aspect of your role, the more often you’ll be faced with situations for which there isn’t a roadmap. 

They’re too complicated. Or too new. Or too unexpected. 

They’re the opportunities that hadn’t been thought of before. The problems that no-one predicted. 

When these things happen, leaders who are used to working on the management side can often get stuck looking for the  policy or procedure to follow.

But in these situations you just have to figure out what to do. 

Use your best judgement. Make a decision. And get people moving. 

Leadership & Management

One way to think about “Leadership” is in counterpoint to “Management”. For me, these two things sit together like this.


On the right are all the things that need to get done to keep the organisation working. The meetings to go to, the spreadsheets to fill in, the invoices to check off, the emails to wade through.

On the left are the things that will push your organisation forward. The new workflow process, the gap in your marketing approach, the unbalanced staffing profile across departments.

In most organisations the stuff on the right will suck up all of your time if you let it. There will always be another deadline, set by someone else, to complete a process, that matters to them, more than it matters to you.

But it’s the stuff on the left that will really make an impact.

So in order to lead from where you are you have to make sure the right side runs smoothly and efficiently, and you have to create space to think and work on the left side.

This way of thinking applies whatever your role, however senior you are. We all have “management” stuff to do and opportunities to do “leadership” stuff. Also, don’t think that one side is more important than the other. They intertwine and work together like dance partners. You have to do the management stuff well in order to keep the lights on. You have to find opportunities to add value in order to make a positive difference.

Your organisation will fill up the right side for you.

The stuff on the left comes from you.