Six years ago, when we our small company was being acquired, one of the acquiring execs asked what I guess is a fairly standard management question: what’s the difference between leadership and management? I don’t remember how I answered the question at the time, though I didn’t get sent to the basement to work on “special projects” by myself, so I probably came up with something within the boundaries of a normal answer. But now, I have a new answer.
This is Mommy, being managed by Olivia to produce a birthday cake for Leo:
Okay, it’s not the greatest looking, but that’s what going dairy-free does to a mousse cake! This is Daddy, being managed by Olivia to produce a birthday cake for Mommy:
I shared these pictures before in the Mommy Cake, Daddy Cake post. But a collaboration under Olivia’s management produced something even nicer for her birthday:
Each of these three cakes involved decreasing levels of micromanagement and direct involvement; quality seemed to increase as a result.
When it came time to make a cake for a belated birthday for Uncle Peter, Mommy decided that Olivia was finally ready to take a leadership role; she would not just supervise and direct an aging workforce bound into servitude – instead, she would lead, setting the artistic vision and inspiring others with her direct involvement in the project. The results speak for themselves:
Most answers to leadership vs. management seem to imply that leadership is what organizations need more of. I humbly submit that this isn’t always the case! Yes, those are M&Ms you see scattered in the cake. And there’s a hole through the whole middle of the cake, filled with the same custard you see in the abstract arrangement on top. It’s kind of like an exploded Boston Creme donut, in some ways.
Fortunately, Mommy had a secret backup plan that was a little yummier: