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Fred’s great friend Harold Myra, retired CEO of Christianity Today, International, espouses Fred’s position on document organization: “It may look messy, but I know where every single thing is!” Fred appreciated those who assisted him with details, particularly Margie Keith. Her nearly twenty years of capturing his thoughts with her speed-of-light typing enable BWF to provide his wisdom to others.

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Leadership or Management?

Leadership and management are two different things. Many good leaders are not good administrators, and good managers are not always good leaders. Both are critical to a well-run operation.

One of our former presidents was a far better executive than he was a leader. He would read up to three hundred pages of reports before breakfast. He was certainly one of our best-informed presidents, but he had trouble getting people to follow him.

Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, had leadership strengths, but was weak on management. The press criticized him because he couldn’t answer technical questions. But he led! He provided a vision and gathered the American public around the vision. Those who don’t like him called him “The Great Communicator,” as a slam. The implication was that good talkers are not good thinkers. I heartily disagree. Communication skills are critical for good leaders.

Even if a leader is not strong in administration, he or she must recognize the absolute value it plays in the success of a nation, a business, a church, or a home. It is important to know that delegated responsibilities must be developed, appreciated, and then left alone. Micromanagement is the great downfall of many leaders who hover over their managers. The leader’s task is to say, “Here’s where we are are, there’s where we want to be.” The administrator’s task is to determine how to get there. A.T. Cushman, the former CEO of Sears, said: “The art of administration is constant checking.” He’s so right. The details matter.

Managing takes a different set of skills than leading.The leader generally operates from strategic strengths; the manager typically exercises logistical and tactical strengths. You lead people; you manage work. I must stress – leadership and management are both key to the excellence of the organization.

One quick word: in smaller organizations it is sometimes necessary for one person to do both. In that case, it is absolutely critical the two functions are clearly understood with their differences, their focuses, and their priorities, as well as the stresses. Set a goal to “do only what only you can do” as soon as possible.

Think carefully about: 1) Where do I find my greatest joy – leading people or managing work? 2) Where are the stresses in my work – leading or managing? 3) Who is on my team to strengthen me?

Words of Wisdom: “Do only what only you can do as soon as possible.”

Wisdom from the Word: “But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task.”  (Acts 6:3 NET Bible)


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