Good Manager, Poor Leader. What’s Missing?

Written by lewsauder

July 7, 2014

Baseball manager analogy for bad leader

Good manager, bad leader

The baseball coach was frustrated with his team. They just weren’t executing. When they were up to bat, they couldn’t buy a hit. The pitchers gave up too many hits. Even when the pitching was good, the fielders made errors that cost the team too many runs.

The coach hated it when the errors happened. He would throw his clipboard down on the ground, cuss, and yell at the offender, humiliating them in front of both teams and their spectators.  Nobody knew if the coach thought that kind of behavior motivated people or if he just couldn’t help himself. He was a poor leader.

The frustrating thing was that he had won a lot of games in his career. Was that behavior what led him to achieve success?  Or was it really success?

The players didn’t respect him. They feared him.  They knew they were just one error away from a humiliating scolding.

The coach was a genius at the game. He knew strategies for countless situations. He knew the best situation for a double steal, a squeeze play, and a bunt. He could manage the game, but he couldn’t lead his people. One wonders how many more games he would have won if he could do both.

See my related post: Letting Knowledge Walk out the Door

We see this type of old-school management in the business world too. Managers who know their business inside and out. Managers who respect their business, but not their people.  Their people nervously go about their work, hoping they don’t make a mistake. A strategy that equally avoids great failure and great success.

People frequently move up the ranks because they have done their job well. A good sales rep becomes a sales manager, a good teacher moves into an administrative role, a good software developer is promoted to project manager.

They think management is a series of orders that are given to subordinates. When the subordinate screws up, you yell at them to keep them from doing it again.

The missing ingredient is leadership; creating a vision for the person to strive for. When that is missing, you have a poor leader.

In marketing, there is the concept of the push-pull marketing strategy. Pharmaceutical companies use both strategies regularly. When a new medication is introduced to the market, pharma reps market directly to physicians to persuade them to prescribe the medication (the push strategy).  They also market to the general public through mainstream advertising. This pull strategy is to induce patients to go to their physician and request a prescription for the new medication.

Management is a push strategy; a form of manipulation. Managers push paper, processes and people to get them to do what the manager wants them to do.

Leadership is a pull strategy. A great leader creates a vision. A vision so strong and vivid that the team members want to achieve it for themselves, not for the manager.

A good leader has the ability to influence the team to achieve something together. A good leader removes obstacles to allow the team to succeed. A good leader makes it about the team and not about himself or herself. A poor leader only knows the push strategy.

A good leader knows when to manage, when to lead, and when to get the hell out of the way. A poor leader only knows how to manage.

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at

Lew’s Books at Amazon:

Project Management 101
Consulting 101
The Reluctant Mentor

Stay Up to Date With The Latest News & Updates

Free ebook

Get 50 Ways to Leave Your Employer for free, signing up to our newsletter!



  1. Playgrounds, Checklists and Making Things Idiot Proof | Consulting 101 - […] See my related post: Good Manager, Poor Leader. What’s Missing? […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This