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October 14, 2008


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Bennet Simonton

I think you have raised a false issue and demeaned a lot of very responsible and effective managers in the process.

Quite simply, managers manage resources and functions such as money, machines, people, finance,production, construction, projects, and supply chains. Each of these has particular characteristics which dictate, repeat dictate how they should be managed. Fail to understand their characteristics and you will fail to make effective use of that resource or function.

People have certain characteristics such as the basic needs to be heard and to be respected. People respond to leadership, good or bad, a characteristic not shared by machines or finances. And because of their upbringing, the vast majority of people are followers and can be led to very low or very high performance or somewhere in between by their leaders and managers.

My point is that manager or leader is a false issue and only serves to prevent us from understanding what we need to do. If you are dealing with people, you need to understand what leadership actually is, or what it is that people follow, and how to use it to your advantage.

If you would like to better understand leadership and managing people, please read the articles at

I suggest starting with the article "Leadership, Good or Bad".

Best regards, Ben


Mr. Simonton,

Thank you. I say thank you sincerely. You’re passionate about your mission. And you’re passionate in finding clarity on the discussion of managers vs leaders. And you found my post lacking.

As I said at the start, it’s an open-ended, talk-out-loud, post.

And with the comments allowed along with trackbacks it’s a listen aloud post as well. Very transparent and accountable. I noticed on your website, http://www.bensimonton.com/articles.html, you list your 4 articles on the power of listening for managers and leaders. I didn’t see any space for comments or feedback from your audience, though.

I apologize to any manager who’s had to suffer in those corporations where a culture of happy-talk demeans and depresses the abilities of everyone, employees and managers and leaders, to create a meaningful brand and who’ve read this post and think I blame them. Clearly, I need to be more precise, even with an open-ended post like this.

And reviewing the post, I should have been more explicit in pointing out that good leaders depend on great managers. And vice versa. I thought I had been clear when I pointed out that without good numbers a leader’s vision is baseless. I should have explicitly articulated that it’s the managers who are the resources ignored by leaders in these cases.

Allowing you to post your comments, reading them, addressing your concerns has helped the conversation, forced explicit clarity where implicit relationships were thought sufficient. And in this time of heightened anxiety and stress I need to be more attentive to that environment of my readers. Thank you.

I hope you’re listening to my comment has helped. And I encourage you to allow comments on your site to enable you to show how leaders listen to their audience, even online.

Bennet Simonton


I am listening. But we will have to agree to disagree about managers managing and leading people.

My website has no facility for allowing comments because I created it myself and I have no idea how to allow for comments.

I do have a blog at http://managingleadingpeople.blogspot.com/
that I recently started and it does allow comments.

Best regards, Ben

The comments to this entry are closed.

Introduction - Recognize THEM!

Chapter 1: Recognize THEM!

Here's Where Employee Engagement Went


Books I've Read and Recommend

  • Jackie Huba: Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics

    Jackie Huba: Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics
    a bigger challenge than I predicted. It’s not what to say that challenged me. It’s what NOT to say. I start reading and within 3-4 paragraphs, I’m nodding my head and saying Yes, yes, exactly. Bam. Bam, baby. Yeah, come on. Can I get a witness. Then I want to share verbatim Jackie’s translation of Gaga’s strategy. Here’s why. It’s a strategy with 7 steps that any, ANY, business can execute under its own terms and under its own budget no matter how small or large. Granted, I enjoy reading this strategy as it’s applied to Gaga. And Jackie's a good writer. But, what's really inspiring is understanding how even a car wash could apply this strategy with these 7 steps and find success. You could build a global empire selling gardening mulch if you followed these 7 steps. And you could lower your advertising and marketing budgets, to boot.

  • Kevin Allen: The Case of the Missing Cutlery: A Leadership Course for the Rising Star

    Kevin Allen: The Case of the Missing Cutlery: A Leadership Course for the Rising Star
    Yes! Finally a leadership book and author who bring empathy, caring and listening to the front of the leadership room instead of insisting it sit in the back, laughed at or ignored with no champion and certainly no budget to help spotlight its role in creating engaged leaders. He had me as a reader and fan on the first page of his introduction. Here’s what he wrote: Years later, when I was made Executive Vice President at McCann Erickson Worldwide ... I came to realize that the gift of human empathy, which had guided me through those early days at Marriott, would allow me to steer literally thousands of people to row in the direction of McCann Erickson’s future. I’ve learned things the hard way, through trial and error, mostly error. Through it all, I came to realize people follow you because of who you are; because you have come to understand the deep desires and hopes of your people; and because, by connecting with them, you have created a culture and a common cause they believe in.

  • Chuck Blakeman: Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea

    Chuck Blakeman: Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea
    I love this book. It's true that I say this about every book I review here. And why shouldn't I? Why waste time reviewing a book I don't love. That being said...Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea: (and other business diseases of the industrial age) is one of my favorite business books for a long time. It starts with the title. It's eye-catching, provocative, right? Mentally, it's a head-slap, positing a theorem inside your head then pounding it home with AlwayandBad to let you know you're not getting away; you're going to have your mind changed. Right now. As I kept looking at the title, tilting my head like a dog - one side to the other - I began to smile. I read a kindred spirit. Here's a rebel, a true disruptor, someone who's willing speak up, take a stand; I like that. I might not agree with what I'm about to read, but his title made me smile without being cloying or clever so I knew I was in for a good ride.

  • Stephen Lynch: Business Execution for RESULTS: A practical guide for leaders of small to mid-sized firms

    Stephen Lynch: Business Execution for RESULTS: A practical guide for leaders of small to mid-sized firms
    I'm an avid reader, always have been. I've read a lot of business books and I’ve led a small business. I recommend you read Business Execution for Results: A Practical Guide for Leaders of Small to Mid-Sized Firms. It is a very, very good book, among the best, most usable business books I’ve read. As a writer, he does things that make the reading very pleasant, very inspiring, very engaging. Very good. He offers personal stories, anecdotes, little clips. They’re genuine, sincere, well-organized to capture your attention, engage you in the story that illustrates the next lesson. I found myself thinking...I can relate...I am relating....I see, feel, remember this personally. And Stephen’s writing is very crisp, very concise in taking you from these stories to the principle with each chapter...and as important to the steps you’re going to take to generate the results you want to see. No hitch in the reading flow. VERY nice.

  • Kerry Patterson: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

    Kerry Patterson: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
    I came with low expectations. I was severely disappointed. It's a great book. This is a well-written, timely, book with tips and reminders and steps to take with each page you read. Real-world examples, real-world steps, to create real, meaningful conversations when the stakes are high. (*****)

  • Gregg Fraley: Jack's Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving

    Gregg Fraley: Jack's Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving
    I read this book completel, too. That should say enough. Even more, I plan to read it again this month. It's a great story whose purpose is to share useful, practical, tips and steps you can take to more effectively and more creatively solve challenges. (*****)

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