Leader, manager, and politician

A guest blog on a topic that touches on Branding and company culture. This is an interesting piece by Marina Iannucci on the different roles in the C-suite of an organisation, how they differ and what they can bring. Enjoy!

For the head of an organization, the ability to balance leader and manager characteristics brings better results than the bare ability to be just one of two.

If we, ideally, put the features of these two figures at the opposite of a continuum line, the manager will occupy the more structured, controlled, analytic and rule oriented spot, while the leader will be at the opposite end with their creative, flexible and passionate approach.

Potentially, the leader may possess politician attitudes, but these must not prevail. The profile of a ‘politician’ is more suitable for external affairs. If the manager (technician) becomes politician, that would change their reference point with the risk of upsetting the stability of rules and roles.

Rules and roles are instruments of simplicity, efficiency and identity; these are not the core of organization but the frame in which people, relations, perceptions and emotions act.

The key for the success of an organization is the right balance between rules and creativity, roles and initiatives, reliability and participation.

Politician, leader and manager – features chart

Item Politician Leader Manager
Position Feels entitled of institution Feels detached from the surroundings, separates his/her value as a person from the role See his role as the guardian and the ruler of organization in a growing perspective


Attitudes Shrewd and sharp Inspired and empathetic Logical and rational
Intermediation oriented in order to overcome risks; make use of conflicts to increase personal influence Risk assumption oriented; supports the general trend Risk analysis oriented; makes plans
Looks for allies (consent) Persuades, loves overall and unusual suggestions Negotiates, loves details and functionality
Disregards information received, asks for more information but disregards them again Defines facts by strong believes Looks for dates, allows data to define facts
Adapts circumstances in order to maintain own position Helps describe happenings in a way that conveys understanding Allows people to understand fact
Near-future oriented Long-term and change-oriented Currently and status quo oriented
Manages relations Manages people Manages resources
Organization Assigns positions and advancements Assigns tasks and duties Assigns offices and responsibility
Item Politician Leader Manager
Applies expert’s recommendations to justify unpopular measures Acknowledges recommendations and conveys them like own decisions Makes decisions on the basis of the data and the objectives
Doesn’t think of being obligated to provide reasons about decisions Aims to create a vision in which people could share believes Is focused on controlling goals and rewards, leading people to achieve the expected results
Settles on targets able to consolidate personal position Settles on targets connected to the believes Settles on targets connected to the necessities and procedures deeply-rooted in the organization culture
Let interests define relations Allows emotional attachment to define relations It’s the role that defines the leadership
Thinks control as a threat Thinks control is useless


Makes use of control to lead activities
Looks for power Looks for solutions that can please all the people Looks for a balance between power and compromise
Decision making Is focused on “where” – the position Is focused on “what”- the context Is focused on “how” – the process
  Sends indirect signals to create emotions Sends direct messages to face emotions Sends indirect signals to weaken emotions
  Profits of ‘time’ to let troubles fade away Profits of ‘time ‘to bring the troubles to an end and to keep focus on a few issues Plays with time to reach a compromise and to start dealing with new issues
Team member relationship Carries out a change by turn-over Carries out a change by integration and conflict management Carries out a change via problem solving process
  Thinks rules and organization  as restrictions and obstacles Makes use of rules and organization to fulfil the purpose Makes use of rules and organization as instruments to get the management more efficient
  Integrates cultures Creates culture Conveys culture
  Makes use of appointments to award/remove allies/opponents Favours the integration instead of the qualification Takes into account roles
  Acts strategies (tactics) Imagines new sceneries (strategy) Carries out the same play (management)
  Looks for consent and intermediation Creates an enthusiastic environment in the organization involving employees in high value activities Creates an satisfying emotional environment in the organization also involving employees in the decision making



Drea Zigarmi et al., Essere Leader (2006)

March & Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions. The Organizational Basis of Politics, 1989

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  1. Pingback: Inspirational leaders, do they really matter? – KnowThyBrand

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