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The Tension Between Leading and Managing

Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof Monday January 24, 2011
<? echo $type; ?> The Tension Between Leading and Managing

I’m a leader by nature.  I love to try to create something out of nothing, take the 30,000 foot view and dream about the future.  I’m also very fortunate to have some very gifted and talented people around me.

One of the people on our leadership team is an exceptional manager (and a leader in her own right).  We get along incredibly well except that we could sense a tension that arose from time to time in meetings.

When I would dream out loud, she would try to figure out how much it would cost, who would follow up and how it would fit into our strategic plan.  Sometimes that was welcome.  Often it bugged me.

At other times, we’d be in a meeting and she would be so hyper focused on follow through, logistics and next steps that I would feel suffocated.  I felt like I needed to get out of the room and get some air.

When we drilled down on it, I learned she felt the same way for opposite reasons.  It was my dreaming that bothered her.  If she didn’t see practical or immediate value in it (and couldn’t reign me in) she would feel like she needed to leave the room to get some air or have a conversation with someone who had some practical bones in their body.

Then we hired a corporate coach who helped us see that both approaches were absolutely indispensable to the growth of our organization.  We need dreamers, and dreamers need room to dream.  And we need people who excel at execution like she does. And they need to plot next steps because otherwise, dreams remain just that….dreams.  It sounds so simple, but sometimes you can be in the same room and just miss it.

Since someone named the value in both of our approaches, we’ve been able to have more productive meetings, a better working relationship and an even deeper appreciation for what we both bring to the table as leaders.


Leaders– what do you need to do to better value great managers around you?

Managers– what do you need to do to affirm the great leaders and dreamers around you?

Carey Nieuwhof is the founding pastor of Connexus Church, a growing multi-campus church north of Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Community Church. Prior to starting Connexus, Carey served for 12 years in a mainline church, transitioning three small congregations into a single, rapidly growing church. Carey is the author of several best-selling books, including the Amazon #1 best-selling Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow. He is also the author of Leading Change Without Losing It and co-author of Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey writes one of today's most widely read Christian leadership blogs at www.careynieuwhof.com and hosts the top-rated Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, where he interviews some of today's best leaders. He speaks to North American and global leaders about leadership, change and personal growth. He and his wife Toni live near Barrie, Ontario and have two sons.