Director: Leader vs Manager

Mike Meldrum presented an interesting session on Leadership to the MD2MD Managing Directors’ group once. It certainly got me thinking – Should the Managing Director of a growing business be a manager or a leader?

My conclusion was both… but that too many get dragged (by the pressures of day to day life) into doing too much management and too little leadership.  But that’s just my view.  What do you think?

If you need some food for thought on the topic, Mike has kindly agreed I can share with my readers his summary of the differences between Leadership and Management as follows:


  • Ask strategic questions
  • Generate answers to those questions (involve others / make choices)
  • Initiate organizational changes to realise the strategy
  • Work through relationships and inspiring others


  • Solve operational problems
  • Generate detailed plans to achieve operational stability (staffing / budgeting)
  • Maintain systems and control mechanisms
  • Work through hierarchies and formal authority

And here are Mike’s thoughts on what Managers and Leaders actually do:

Leaders: Create things Change things Find resources Get the mission defined Shake things up Set the direction and tone Use imagination Interact with outsiders, inspire people Are responsible for overall outcome Create mandates, take risks Use influence, convince, show direction Monitor outside the culture.

Managers: Control things Keep track of things Budget, make ends meet Plan and organise Solve problems Cope with complexity Use rules and systems Interact internally, keep people in line Are responsible for performance levels Create structures, risk averse Use authority, power, give direction Monitor organisational culture.

Bob Bradley

Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.

Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.

Core to his portfolio is MD2MD. Having experienced for himself the value of having a strong sounding board of fellow Managing Directors he founded MD2MD in 2004 to provide groups of business leaders with a confidential environment within which they can support and challenge each other to raise their game as leaders and by doing so improve the success of their organisation.

More about Bob

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