Dare to Lead: Book Overview and Takeaways

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 8th Habit" by Stephen R. Covey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here .

Do you want to inspire your team members? What is the difference between management versus leadership in the context of organizational management?

Both management and leadership are important for any organization, but many companies suffer from too much of the former and a lack of the latter. The key difference between management versus leadership is that leaders focus on the organization’s people, whereas managers focus on the organization’s things and objects.

Keep reading to learn about the difference between management versus leadership, and how to be a better leader in your organization.

Management Versus Leadership

Covey asserts that a change in leadership is the key to organizational success amid human paradigm shifts. He notes the distinct skills that define management versus leadership. Management, an Industrial Age skill, deals with objects; leadership, an Information Age skill, inspires people. Both management and leadership are crucial if an organization is to function well. But Covey sees most organizations today as suffering from a lack of leadership and an excess of management.

An important function of modern leadership is building and supporting strong teams: teams that are made up of people with complementary strengths. In strong teams, members willingly contribute from their strengths and actively compensate for the weaknesses of other team members. This is why Covey insists that great leaders must help others identify and use their unique contributions.

Management Versus Leadership: Alternative Views

Covey sees the idea of management versus leadership as focusing on things vs. people. Other authors also distinguish between management and leadership but use different criteria: For example, John Maxwell argues in 5 Levels of Leadership that management is maintaining the status quo, while leadership is creating change.

CEO and author Vineet Nayar proposes three differences between leaders and managers: counting value vs. creating value (a manager supervises; a leader delegates), circles of power vs. circles of influence (a manager gives orders to direct reports; a leader advises people who come to seek it), and managing work vs. leading people (echoing Covey’s key distinction).

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, venture capital firm co-founder Ben Horowitz formulates a similar divide, but he frames it as distinguishing two different types of managers: “Ones,” who are big-picture, strategic thinkers (Covey’s leaders), and “Twos,” who are more focused on processes and goals (Covey’s managers). Horowitz suggests that all leaders are some combination of One and Two. In his opinion, the best CEOs are primarily Ones but have a healthy dose of “Two thinking” that keeps the organization from becoming chaotic.

How to Be a Better Leader

According to Covey, leaders in the Age of Wisdom should focus on cultivating self-control, focus, dedication, and integrity within their organizations. To get rid of the management versus leadership mindset, leaders should encourage team members to nurture their own unique contributions.

(Shortform note: This focus on self-work is typical of Covey, who espouses an approach to leadership based on character rather than personality. This approach has gained popularity since Covey’s death, with research increasingly focusing on “self-leadership” or “worthy leadership.” The Worthy Leadership model, for example, has three main facets: capacity, commitment, and character.)

Management Versus Leadership: The Key Difference

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Stephen R. Covey's "The 8th Habit" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The 8th Habit summary :

  • Why the most important job of a leader is to nurture individuality
  • How an organization is like the human body
  • Why leaders should let their employees evaluate them

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.