The difference between leadership and management

Ben Rich

A great engineer, leader and manager

The gentleman on the right was Ben Rich.

He was an Australian who took over from Kelly Johnson in 1975 the running of Skunk Works in California during a period of continuing tension with the USSR.

At a speech he gave at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London he said, “Noah got the flood warning, so he had an Ark built and put two of each species aboard. That was leadership. Once they were afloat, Noah said to his wife, “Make sure the elephants don’t see what the rabbits are doing.” That was management.”

In marketing, we’d think of this as being the difference between strategy and implementation. And we tend to think of these as being things we do for our clients. But communications agencies which have yet to integrate digital marketing into their business will need to think hard about leadership and management.

A decision to embrace digital is a leadership issue.

You’ll then need to have a hard look at who you have in your agency. Does your creative director show any interest or understanding of digital marketing? Can your planning director write briefs which embrace digital as an effective communications channel? Do you need project management for digital campaigns? (Yes, you do.) Where will you get the digital expertise? Do you out source it or hire?

If you are making the change, you’ll need to define clearly why you want to make the change, how you expect to make money from it, and how you will implement the change.

And all this requires both leadership and management.

Leadership comes from the top.

There’s a Greek business proverb which sums it up nicely: Businesses are like fish. They rot from the head downwards.