23 July 2011 ~ 6 Comments

(Pari Project Guest Post) Leadership and Management: Can They Be Nurtured?

Guest Post By Allie Hoffman of The Pari Project

Lately I have been exploring the difference between ‘managers’ and ‘leaders’, wondering what ingredients go into making someone effective as one but not the other, and whether or not you can nurture both.

The reason for the exploration is intensely personal; I’m supposed to step aside and hand over the social enterprise I created to a Leadership Team in the near future. (‘Near’ is relative; it might be another year or more, so bear with me.)

Despite the long-winded and self-directed timeline, thinking about handing over can be panic-inducing; my entire identity is wrapped up in being an unwitting founder, and to think my current challenge is to develop traits in others I barely understand in myself, is daunting.

Pari has worked with 35 NGOs in its lifetime; that’s 35 leaders and/or managers to study. When I think about the effective leaders, I think about their common traits: humble, patient, confident, fearless, audacious, original. I think about how their work has become an intrinsic part of who they are, and their devotion is unshakable. With this devotion comes vision, that constant desire to be springing forth something new and transformative.

Pari has also worked with a lot of great managers. Getting people to do things they would otherwise not want to do is an art form; great managers know how to get things done. Managers think in linear ways; they communicate clearly and effectively; they are often meticulously organized. Managers see problems, and immediately set to work solving said problem. Their solutions are innovative and incisive.

What do I have – managers or leaders? I don’t know. Which one am I? I don’t know either.

What I have learned is that if I leave behind a space where people are questioning, challenging, innovating and taking risks; an approach that begets flexibility, adaptability and patience, and a core ideology that implores the team and its leaders to ‘believe in better’, then I leave having done my job.

What do you think great leadership entails? What does it mean to be a great manager? Please leave your thoughts below.


This is a guest post by Allie Hoffman of The Parivartan Project. Pari is a social enterprise whose purpose is to empower the citizen sector; to do this, they provide fundraising, marketing and organizational development services. To learn more: www.thepariproject.com

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing this, Allie. This resonates with me as I am transitioning to a new role at PEPY. Having been the ED, I felt very much the “leader” of our organization, though I recognize my weaknesses in management skills hinder my leadership abilities. In that way, I think they are intertwined and both required in many ways to be an effective “conductor” of a successful organization.

    Your fear of how to foster those skills in others is also something that I can relate to. Transferring skills requires being a great teacher, or at least role model, ideally both. I have seen this in some staff who are SO talented in a certain area – but when asked to share those skills with others, the skills are so innate in who they are, they have trouble identifying how they were once fostered in their own learning and therefor have trouble figuring out how to transfer them to others.

    I also think there are roles for all of us and our varied skills, and that all of us can continue to build in each area. We have a few fabulously talented managers at PEPY from whom I have been lucky enough to learn. Sometimes those people are also people I would describe as “leaders”, other times,  I would say they have great leadership qualities, but they are more likely to follow/execute a plan than create it, but in doing so, are able to manage a team with grace, passion, attention to detail and commitment to quality.

    I know you too are a fan of Derek Sivers TED Talk “How to start a movement”. http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html  That piece highlights for me how it is not “leadership” which we should always push our youth into, but rather following and working for change through fostering great ideas – be those yours or created through the leadership of others.

    Thanks for sharing Allie! I hope others will join in and add some thoughts re:leadership/management and transitions!

  • http://twitter.com/tenaciousleigh Leigh

    I find this fascinating. Like Danielle, I feel very much like the ‘leader” of my organization but recognize my weaknesses in management. I tend to big picture over details, frameworks over clear plans, etc. In a purely personal self-interest kind of way, I wonder how to foster better management qualities in myself. Or, how to partner with someone within my organization so we can help each other with leadership and management. Really curious to see how everyone responds and contributes to this discussion.

  • http://www.ogunte.com Servane Mouazan

    Thanks for sharing this Allie, there’s a great humility in your question. and you show great leadership by putting this to the public.
     Of course you could just go back to the books which state that the leader creates and holds the vision and the managers execute; you might want or have to do both depending on the size of the organisation. You can also look at this this way: the leader is the person, the reference the outside world will look at and listen to, refer to even. The manager will focus on the inside of the organisation, the smooth and well oiled machinery that makes the leader’s vision happen! It may be that your vision is much bigger than Pari, you believe in better: there are many potential ventures where you can apply this value. Pari is just the start.Whatever happens, and as Simon Sinek says in his TED video (another ted video…!), “Start with Why… http://www.startwithwhy.com/(also titles are not too important, as long as people appoint you, believe in you and learn from you… and likewise, as long as you keep being a learner, a representative, a listener and you keep asking questions…)..Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    I love Simon Sinek’s talk!  We had our whole team at PEPY Tours watch it and discuss. We realized that we knew our WHY really well, but hadn’t solidified our what/how – which I think is an ok place to be (better than the other way around, I assume Simon would say!). I met him a  conference and when everyone was saying “What do you do?” he was saying “WHY do you do what you do.”  That is basically the theme of this year’s TEDxPhnomPenh – and I’m so excited to see how it goes!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621965764 Kari Pilcher

    I am currently studying social work leadership in my masters of social work and there are various theories about leadership. Some talk about personality traits of leadership, others talk about the position of leadership and you are probably familiar with the style of leadership conversations democratic etc. So when you are asking what does it mean to be a great manager, you could probably ask some better questions, such as – what does theory say about leadership, which fits comfortably for me, in light of these opposing theories what can I learn about how to better manage people. What are some of the theories about motivational leadership? From what you ahve written your understanding of leadership is based on personality traits – have you looked into the critical analysis of personality traits as an effective means of analyzing leadership?

    I think it is great that you have thrown your reflection into the public domain and I hope that the reflective process is very beneficial to you

    I am no means an expert – as I am saying I am studying this – but I am willing to email some resources that I have from my course if you are interested.

    I also need to apologise if the tone of this is more abrupt then I intended, I am working on my written communication skills by participating in blogs such as this and am on a long journey of improvement.

    kpilcher@live.com.au if you wish to email me

  • Anonymous

    Hi Kari – This piece was a guest post from Allie Hoffman of Pari Project. You can reach out to her here: http://thepariproject.com/

    Thanks for your thoughts!