Managing versus leading at your non-profit organization

This morning I am running off to facilitate an interesting discussion among some very smart non-profit professionals. The topic of the discussion is: “The Art of Being an Executive Director: Leading vs. Managing“.

To be honest, I’m so excited about today’s discussion that I’ve been looking forward to it for a month.

In preparation for today’s facilitated discussion, I developed the following questions to help get the creative juices flowing and stimulate discussion:

  • What is the difference between leading and managing?
  • How do you know when you’re leading or just managing?
  • Does this mean leaders can abdicate their role in implementation?
  • Are there tools you use that hold you accountable to leading?

Usually, when I’m asked to facilitate discussions like this one, I also try to bring various resources to the table that participants might find useful and seek out after the discussion. The following are just a few of the resources I plan on sharing:

Rather than going on and on this morning about my thoughts on leading versus managing your non-profit organization, I thought I’d ask you to think about some of the questions I posed and you can weigh-in with your thoughts using the comment box below.

As I’ve been saying for more than a year now . . . “We can all learn from each other.”

Come on . . . please?  The comment volume for this blog has decreased in the last few months. I know that the summer is here, but let’s try to reverse this trend just for today. Please take a few minutes out of your morning and leave a comment. It might make all the difference in the world for someone else. I would consider it a personal favor.  🙂

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


  1. Hi Erik- Since you asked for comments, I will toot my own horn and share that I have a new book going to the publisher this month. It is called Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives. In it, we define leadership as “a process of influencing people strategically and tactically, affecting change in intentions, actions, culture, and systems.” That’s not to say that leader don’t manage because obviously they do and sometime they even task manage. Management and leadership both have their place and they compliment each other.
    In the non-profit sphere, you know when you’re leading because the needle moves; you can see the impact on your organization, your community, yourself, your team and – most importantly -the service your organization provides changes the world!

    1. Dani . . . very well put. Perhaps, this is the best explanation I’ve heard so far. Nicely done!

      Congrats on your book. I am looking forward to reading it.


  2. Hi Erik,

    I also think a leader provides inspiration and paints a vivid picture of the vision for change/success.

    “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
    –Lao Tzu

    1. Ryan Scheel? Well, it is certainly nice to see you getting a little more vocal out here in cyberspace. LOL I absolutely agree with both you and Tzu. Leaders bring vision, which is the engine of change. Thanks for your readership and I hope to cross your path soon!

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