The Difference Between Leading & Managing – Q&A Series

A few months ago, I asked for your biggest questions on business, leadership & life. Your responses were incredible (the #CLoTribe rocks!) & today, we’re kicking off a weekly Q&A video series. I’ll be taking the next 12 weeks to answer your questions each Thursday. Today’s question comes in from Nathan: Question

I believe my answer is considerably different from what Nathan was expecting.

Question: What are your thoughts on managing vs. leading? 



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

54 thoughts on “The Difference Between Leading & Managing – Q&A Series”

  1. That was awesome Chris. How do you deal with Team members referring to you as Boss? I despise the term and maybe I have not been clear enough with them.

    1. Hey Daniel! I hope you don’t mind me popping in on your question…

      In the past, I’ve personally used “Boss” as a term of endearment. I guess it depends on the context, but personally I wouldn’t take offense to it.

      “Hey boss, can you help me figure this out?” Versus “Ok, you are the boss”. Totally different vibe in these two scenarios.

      Curious to hear what everyone else thinks!

      1. Daniel, as one of Chris’ team members, Chris wouldn’t go for it because of what you heard him say in the video. Generally speaking though, I’ve also used it as a term of endearment and I think that’s fine, but if a “boss” insists on it or expects it, there’s an ego problem and I venture to say there are other problems on that team, too.

    2. I had a guy who did that. I asked him not to and told him it was demeaning to BOTH of us. He understood and held off for awhile. One day he said, “hey boss” so I responded with, “hey employee”. He stopped. 🙂

  2. Love the video Chris! I’m sure the tribe is going to be all over this!

    What you are talking about here is crucial to developing a strong team. This kind of leadership requires patience, trust, and humility. Letting go of some control seems to be one of the hardest thing for “managers” to grasp in my opinion.

    Let’s face it, control is often what got them to the party!

    I always like to flip this around and ask them, how would you want to be “managed” in that position?

    Nice video bomb Brock!

  3. Very nice format for Q&A!

    I think we manage projects and lead people. A ‘people’ manager demands results; a leader promotes growth and autonomy. On my team, I am working hard on teaching why we make certain decisions. I’ve heard more than once “I know you don’t like things done this way”, as if things are tailored to my personal preferences, rather than our quality standards. I lead a huge project, but people don’t report to me, so it’s tough for all of us to figure out how that works. I am also being charged more with the “business side”, consulting with the client, managing a budget and assigning resources. There’s a lot I need to learn… that’s for sure!

    1. Lily, “manage projects and lead people”?? Are you sure you haven’t read Stephen Covey??

      You’re so very right. Covey used to say that you can be efficient with “things” but effective with people.

      I think it just goes back to the fact that the leader is really concerned only with making the team successful!

  4. 1. Rockin’ scruff beard!

    2. @BrockTheIntern! Love it!

    3. Dude. It may be common sense, but as my dad used to say (and I hated that he did) “Common sense isn’t really common”.

    You basically broke it down and stated this fact: Lead people well, and they won’t need ‘management’. Obviously this plays out by making sure you do what it takes to make sure THEY are successful, instead of demanding they make YOU successful.

  5. I agree with Erik Fisher…nice beard! In addition, I loved the video post and put it to action instantly with a new admin assistant that my Stewardship ministry has. Simply put, what can I do to help you be successful in your position? Chris, thanks for your leadership and consistent message through the years! Keep rockin’ (the beard, too!)

    Also, breaking the mold that leaders can/cannot be friends with team! Good word and great leadership!

  6. I have to agree with you Chris. Managing would only be required if you make poor hiring decisions, don’t address issues quickly and don’t communicate to your team. In short, managing is only required if there’s a lack of leadership 🙂

    I love your point about being friends with your team and the “we” mentality at Poimen.

    It’s amazing the productivity jump when there isn’t a boss and workers, rather teammates working together to kick butt and make a difference!

  7. New to your blog. Great perspective on leadership! So many times, the term “leadership” is soft, fuzzy, and overused, but this video really has legs. It all about how you view your role (supporter vs enforcer) and the type of questions you ask. Good stuff, thanks for posting!

    1. Ryan! Welcome to the CLoTribe!! Hope you come back!

      You’re so right. “Leadership” is a word that’s thrown around willy nilly a lot. But it’s hard to do, and very rewarding!

  8. So now you are the other Cee Lo! I love it. And good luck to Brock. Looks like he is not waiting to be told what to do. As always, Chris, I think you are doing a great job and I really enjoy listening and watching your posts. I have recommended you to many peeps.

  9. You’re brilliant, wise, and humble. And that’s why I’m one of your biggest fans… even though I know you don’t really like having fans. 🙂

    Thanks for shooting it straight and inspiring us to greatness!

  10. Great advise Chris. We have found that by teaching our team to battle plan their goals then inspect what has been expected we obtain our best results. Thanks for all you do.

  11. Chris,
    I like your message. This works with people with drive , initiative & self determination. My question is how to lead the youth of today who don’t care about anything other than a paycheck? They have no integrity, think they know everything & are doing you a favor by showing up. My philosophy is “Sanctioned incompetence is demoralizing” but I neither hire nor fire. And “Management” doesn’t seem to care.
    Thanks, Jenny

  12. Chris,

    I like your message. This works with people with drive ,
    initiative & self determination. My question is how to lead the
    youth of today who don’t care about anything other than a paycheck? They have no integrity, think they know everything & are doing you a
    favor by showing up. My philosophy is “Sanctioned incompetence is
    demoralizing” but I neither hire nor fire. And “Management” doesn’t seem to care.
    Thanks, Jenny

    1. I just finished listening to the Entreleadership podcast where Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A was interviewed. He spoke about how they inspire teenagers who work for them. Jenny, you should check it out!

      1. DaAnne,
        I have listened to all of the podcasts. That is where I met Chris. These kids think that kind of advice is “Talking Down to them”. They think they are better than anyone else. The only thing they understand is consequences, if they get caught. Otherwise they lie about everything & dare you to catch them. Then they claim they are being discriminated against. They were never taught responsibility or honesty as kids. Thanks for your response.

  13. thanks for your work, interesting take on leadership. I first saw this modeled in the service a long time ago. GySgt I knew was the understated leader and kept us all working to be better

  14. You definitely lead people. However, don’t be under the illusion that you only manage processes. Processes are nothing more than structures that produce results. However, processes do not work themselves. People work processes and people must be managed in such processes. One of the key components of managing is directing. You do not direct processes. You direct people. Good managers learn to produce good results through people. In an organizational setting, leaders think on a higher level to view trends and create vision of the organization. Strategies are created to reach that vision. Managers manage people who perform the work in the processes that will fulfill those strategies that accomplish the mission and vision.

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