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Project Management - Leader or Manager?

Updated on February 2, 2015

Leader, Manager - or Both?

As the director of an instructional design project, you must be both a manager and a leader . . . (Reiser & Dempsey, 2012).

Is leadership different than management? Are leaders and managers distinctive and separate roles? Thinking and reacting - both are distinctive and separate tasks: those that react, but do not think, and those that think, but do not react. We need to be capable of both thinking and reacting. In exactly the same way, folks in a business must be capable of both managing and leading. Leaders need to be knowledgeable, skilled and competent. Managers need to have the following of those for whom they are responsible. Folks look up to and respect those who are willing to take charge. Management and leadership are different, but managers and leaders should be one and the same.

“Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complimentary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves.” (Murray, 2008).

Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.

— (Bennis, p.21)

Managers and leaders need to do both: Motivate and control, have both vision and an eye for detail, can look at both the short term and the long term goals; can both think and react - do the right thing and do it right.


Murray, A. (2008). The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management. New York, New York: Harper Business.

Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (2012). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (3 ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Bennis, W., & Burt, N. (1985) Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. Harper and Row.

© 2015 Mark Bush


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    • markbush5150 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Bush 

      3 years ago from Tampa, Florida 33609

      I was a bit concerned about this topic. Especially since it does not go into all of the functions, as you mention, of project management. It is nice to be, or work with a strong manager and leader - I think. Though I know this can be a great topic for debate - that's why I kept it short - thx :-)

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 

      3 years ago from South Dakota, USA

      I was always taught that there are five functions of management: plan, organize, direct, staff, and control. Leaders are those people with vision who originate the strategy upon which the plans are built. So yes, an Instructional Designer must both envision the project, and write and implement the plan. I agree.


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