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12 Apr 2012

Aligned Leadership And The Leadership vs Management Debate

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Leadership vs. Management: The Difference

What is aligned leadership?

Organizational and de facto leadership come together to form aligned leadership.

In this post I want to show how informal organizational power and its role in leadership can produce different kinds of leadership. It greatly impacts the difference between leadership and management.

Inspiration for Aligned Leadership

My inspiration is from a Chinese concept of rulers that is over two thousand years old, and I first read in connection to the I Ching. From it, I produced two forms of leadership: Organizational Leadership (OGL) and De Facto Leadership (DFL).

When any group identifies its leader, the critical question is:

Are the members’ hearts into following the leader?

The answer is the same difference between a loveless marriage and a loving one. That’s why I express OGL as a hollowed circle to be filled and DFL as a solid circle to be embraced (figure). A loving marriage is love (blue) embraced by the formal structure of marriage (red). Leadership is best when the formal organizational structure is given to leaders that people want to follow, thus producing Aligned Leadership (ALL).

Aligned Leadership and Management

OGL is the hierarchy using titles such as manager and executive to convey positions of authority and rules of responsibility. OGL is more akin to management. DFL is dependent upon the person’s qualities; people follow them regardless of what the rules say. This is how some can be leaders without being managers.

A scene from Braveheart expresses very well the difference between DFL and OGL. In it, the lead Scottish noble, Robert the Bruce, is trying to convince the commoner warrior, William Wallace, that he needs the noble’s support. The latter responds with, “Men follow courage not titles.”

OGL, DFL and ALL reinforce the idea that leadership is an affect that requires tapping into emotions and integrating both aspects of an interpersonal relationship. This helps people to see what they want to see in their leaders, thus encouraging them to follow.


Series Navigation<< Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part V)Key To Telling Leaders And Managers Apart In Any Workplace >>

11 Responses

  1. Pingback : Leadership vs. Management (Pt VI): The Difference | Mike Lehr's Blog | Global Leaders | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback : Leadership vs. Management (Pt VI): The Difference | Mike Lehr's Blog | Leadership Think Tank | Scoop.it

  3. I love this post Mike. Great post.

    I especially love your reference to the movie Braveheart and the scene you chose to illustrate your point.

    ‘Men follow courage not titles.’ Now although many of our movies such as this and Gladiator contain a great deal of hubris, I still glean quite a bit when I get underneath all the grandiose hype. haha

    In todays world, the courage we need to muster within ourselves has less to do with command and conquer tactics and more to do with the courage to speak our truths to one another. The courage to quit enabling ‘bad’ leadership. The courage to face the ‘backlash’ when we start telling the truth, saying no to what we cannot personally tolerate, and once we stop enabling denial.

    When we begin doing these things, we break the cycle of fear-based compliance our culture is deeply entrenched in.

    I just rewatched Braveheart the other night, so part of the script is still fresh in my mind. One of the other things I love about the scene you mentioned has to do with the dynamics between Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. Although William was only a commoner, people were following him because of his courage. Even though he wasn’t noble. Now, this could have easily gone to his head when it came to Robert the Bruce. And yet, that would have been entirely dependent on the intentions of William himself. If his chief aim was to rule a kingdom, perhaps he would have been threatened by the leadership of other men. He wasn’t because it was not his personal desire to RULE over the people.

    The latter part of the scene you mentioned, William says this to Robert:

    ‘Now tell me, what does that mean to be noble? Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow titles, they follow courage. Now our people know you. Noble, and common, they respect you. And if you would just lead them to freedom, they’d follow you. And so would I.’

    William knew his ‘place’. He wasn’t interested in usurping Robert’s position and entitlements. Yet, he chose to step IN where current leadership would NOT. And that is the courage that set him apart from the nobles.

    Here’s another quote I love by William Wallace:

    ‘There’s a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.’

    When any nation forgets this, the only way to turn the ‘ship’ around is for ‘we the people’ to take action to do it. I don’t like war and fighting. However, it can start by speaking the truth. Until it is heard. If it can’t and won’t be heard? Then as a nation, we are in trouble because that is what leads to WAR.

    Thanks again for sharing such great posts Mike. 🙂


    1. Mike Lehr

      Yes, Samantha, Braveheart is filled with good lessons. I’m pleased you enjoyed the connection. In addition to the courage to speak truths to one another, I would also include the courage to do the “true” things. Your quote about position is also good. In the workplace, we could equate this to the manager’s position helping employees develop and move forward.

      If you had to, Samantha, how would you define truth? The context I would give for the question is this: Is truth objective or does it vary by person, by perspective? Then my next question is: How do we determine the truth?

      Thank you for the support and encouragement, Samanatha. I appreciate it.


  4. Hi Mike,

    Great question! How would I define truth? How do ‘we’ define truth? This is a question I could spend a great deal of time elaborating on. So I’ll try to keep this as condensed as possible. (grins)

    First, when I said that we need to muster the courage to speak our truths to one another, I am not referring to religious beliefs, traditions, or cultural beliefs that have been passed on to us by family, schools, or one’s individual nation. (i.e. patriotic beliefs) I’m referring to the truth of our individual experiences, which yes, may be highly subjective and riddled with ‘assumptions’. In the context I was stating it yesterday, I was referring to issues of abuse that can occur in both family AND business settings. Silence is what allows abusive behavior to continue. People remain silent when this happens for many reasons, but ultimately, the core reason is FEAR.

    So when I say speak the truth, I mean exactly that. State the facts of our own experiences. ‘This is what happened or is happening.’ ‘I feel x,y,z when ‘this’ happens.’ ‘I observed x,y,z and came to ‘this’ conclusion…can you help me understand if this is correct?’ etc.

    And yes, MY personal experience may not be YOUR personal experience. The person who uses their power to subjugate another has a different ‘experience’ then the person on the receiving end. Just an example.

    Another clarifying point to all of this is I personally tend to not just view a single experience yet try to observe how things are interconnected and related. From ground zero all the way up to the 30,000 foot view.

    I’m looking at ‘systems’ and how it is currently balanced. And how we generally compensate for imbalance. Which is what is happening across our nation from the family unit, to organizations, all the way up to government. When a system is dysfunctional, the person or authoritative ‘entity’ that holds the most power is what those with lesser power must compensate for in order to keep the system balanced. i.e. the alcoholic father/husband, or the ‘tyrant/dictator’ leader.

    We predominantly have a fear-based compliant culture. Still. Here in America. And whether we are talking about a family system, business, organization, or government, the fear-based compliance results in ‘enabling’ behavior that allows certain behaviors to continue.

    If it weren’t for all the enablers, an addict/abuser/tyrant/dysfunctional system couldn’t remain that way for long….

    Those in the position of authority and holding the most power are the LEAST inclined to want things to change because it would involve changing their own behavior. So that leaves the ‘change’ up to the people who are enabling it. If you no longer cooperating with ‘business as usual’ in the home, business, organization, or government, you disrupt the balance in the system. Resulting in ‘acute crisis’. Followed by a period of adjustment as a new system is formed and ‘balanced’ once again. Truth brings change. And the people who start speaking their own truths must also be prepared for it. As long as fear of the consequences of speaking truths outweighs the feeling of benefit for being honest, enabling behaviors will continue.

    It’s individual thing. It starts with one. It starts with me. It starts with you. The timing may be different for every single person. Yet once one person does it, it begins to empower others to do it as well.

    We are all connected. In some way or another.

    Anyway, I’m sure I didn’t answer the question of ‘ultimate truth’, yet hope that at least it gives a better idea of what I mean in these contexts. : )

    Thanks again Mike. Your posts generally provide me with ample associative thinking material.


    1. Mike Lehr

      Thank you, Samantha. I definitely see how you are defining truth. I was thinking it in a different context which you alluded to in your comment. Yes, we are all interconnected. It’s hard to associate a specific problem to an isolated person. I would also suggest that leaders are often the greatest obstacle to change not only because they might need to change but also the required change might not fit the talents and personality of the leader. In other words, the current leader might not be appropriate for the change so the group might need a new leader. That might be the change.

      Thank you, too, for the compliment. I’m pleased my posts sometimes give you ample associative thinking material.


  5. Yes, Mike. I agree. Sometimes the leader doesn’t have the proper requirements, talents, mindset (etc) to lead or initiate needed change. Which reminds me…don’t you have a post on this very topic? I vaguely recall reading something like this either in your book or in one of your other posts. I think it may have been a post. If it was a post, what is the name and link to that one?


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