The Sweet Spot Between Management and Leadership

Meerkats (2)

John Kotter’s “That’s Not How We Do It Here” teaches the value of balancing management and leadership.

Leadership fable master John Kotter is back with his newest book That’s Not How We Do It Here, a story about a clan of meerkats struggling to stay afloat.

Kotter introduces his readers to a bureaucratic clan of meerkats that is not adapting well to change. As a result, members of the group are dying. Nadia, the story’s heroine, leaves her clan to embark upon a journey to find a solution to the tragedies her clan is facing. Along the way, she meets a small and brand new clan that encourages agility and innovation. The problem is, they struggle to maintain order as soon the clan starts to grow. Ultimately, what Nadia discovers is that a successful clan needs a healthy balance of management and leadership in order to succeed.

How balanced is your organization?

On page 139 of the book is a chart with four quadrants. Organizations in the upper left quadrant have strong leadership but weak management. Those that fall into the bottom right quadrant have strong management but weak leadership. The ones that fit in the bottom left quadrant are described in one word – doomed. The upper right quadrant is the sweet spot: strong management and strong leadership.

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Which quadrant does your organization fall in? If your business or organization is currently suffering from either too much bureaucracy and red tape, or too much freedom and a lack of execution, take a look at Kotter’s recommended solution to reaching the upper right quadrant: The Big Opportunity (pictured above).

Here are the 8 steps to creating a “Best of Both Worlds” Organization:

1. Create a sense of urgency. Drive out complacency and unwarranted anxiety. Instead ignite passion, excitement, and emotional engagement.

2. Build a guiding coalition. Band together a diverse group of individuals from different silos and levels to form a solid leadership team.

3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives. Listen to everyone’s voices in order to form a strong strategic vision.

4. Enlist a volunteer army. Relentlessly communicate your organization’s new initiatives in order to draw in volunteers.

5. Enable action by removing barriers. Knock down the barriers that are keeping struggling ideas from converting into action.

6. Generate short-term wins. Big or small, celebrating successes ignites change and develops momentum.

7. Sustain acceleration. Don’t let the sense of urgency fade. Keep the processes going and maintain momentum.

8. Institute change. Over time, big wins eventually become institutionalized in the hierarchical structure and volunteers will be excited to share real results.


Get to the sweet spot with your team.

Buy That’s Not How We Do It Here! in bulk for your organization to discover where your team falls in Kotter’s Leadership vs. Management chart. BookPal helps businesses all across the country buy books wholesale for their leadership training programs, corporate events, and more. Find out how we can help you save on your next bulk book purchase!

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This post was written by Michelle Drucker, the manager of marketing at BookPal. She is currently reading Making Work Work by Shola Richards and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.

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