Management vs. Leadership

hhibner —  November 14, 2013 — 3 Comments
photo credit: Honor Photo Bar via photopin cc

photo credit: Honor Photo Bar via photopin cc

I am currently serving on an ALA committee: the Library Leadership and Management Association’s (LLAMA) Competencies Committee. Simply stated, the group is charged with creating a list of leadership and management competencies for the profession. Libraries of all types can use the list to develop job descriptions, training programs, and identify standards, and library schools can use the list to teach library leadership and management skills expected by the profession.

Last year’s committee determined that there is definitely a difference between management and leadership, and this year’s group will take the existing combined competencies list and separate leadership competencies from management competencies. I’ve been assigned to the team who will identify the management half of the list.

The literature review completed by last year’s committee has helped a lot to make the distinction. While both managers and leaders are crucial to organizations, there are some key functions of each. Managers do things like planning, budgeting, staffing, evaluating, and problem solving. They get the daily work done and keep the organization on track. They are responsible for making sure the organization produces the work it set out to do. Leaders, on the other hand, are visionaries. They get buy-in, empower others, facilitate change, and find opportunities.  They are responsible for making sure the organization stays viable into the future.

A team member shared the article “Management is Still (Not) Leadership” by John Kotter from the Harvard Business Review. The article defines and separatesmanagement from leadership really well. I especially love Kotter’s idea that people with charisma are not necessarily leaders. They’re often just attractive, charming people.

I also love the idea that there are leaders at all levels of staffing. The person at the top of the organization chart isn’t necessarily a leader. They could be a manager – and that’s not a bad thing, but there have to be leaders in the group or the organization won’t move successfully into the future. Think about your staff. Do you have a Page or Intern who shares ideas, encourages and suggests change, and inspires others? They’re a leader! Do you have Department Heads who get a lot of work done, present complete budgets, and problem solve well – but who do not seem to have a vision for the library’s future? They’re managers! Again, both are critical to the success of the organization.

So, as I contribute to the work of this committee, separating management competencies from leadership competencies, I will be looking for these attributes in the people around me. I will also be analyzing myself.



Adult Services Coordinator at the Plymouth District Library with a mild obsession for collection quality. Ok, maybe not so mild. Find me on Twitter at @hhibner and over at Awful Library Books (!

3 responses to Management vs. Leadership


    I saw a great (LLAMA-sponsored!) session at ALA Midwinter 2010 about leading from any position, from page to director. It has shaped my perspective since on what leadership means in a library setting. As you say, anyone can be a leader!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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