Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Teamwork between Leadership and Management

Soccer helps me synthesize so many things that I do. Today's epiphany comes from the roles of defense and offense. The best offense is a great defense, but you can't win games if you don't score. So how does the teamwork between offense and defense relate to the relationship between management and leadership? Both are essential and either one in isolation will not help a school improve.


The best offensive players are the ultimate risk takers. They stand on the edge of the limits of the rules of the game because they know they can't break the rules. They excel in the areas of ball handling skills and shooting abilities.

Take for instance David Beckham, arguably the best soccer player in recent history. He can bend a shot in amazing ways to score for the team. As a result he is looked to in times of need when the team needs the win, and he delivers. He is respected by his teammates and feared by his opponents. Most importantly, he is a very good defender and is committed to helping the defense succeed.

Innovation, risk taking and change are the offense of your team. Without it, you can't score and you're destined to lose the big game. Teams need leaders who will inspire others to take risks, model leadership behaviors by taking the big shot and rally the team toward victory. The players on the team look to the leader to guide the team to make changes to the game plan if they are behind. Leaders motivate others to jump out there and try new things to help the team score, and they are the first one there to lead the celebration when another teammate scores for the team.


Defense can make or break the team. If you don't have a strong defense, your offense has to expend a lot more energy attempting to score more goals to keep the team ahead. Teams can't win if the defense can't defend against the opponent.   Defense is also the foundation of the organization. It gives the team shape so that the offense is in the best position to do its job. When the defense fails to perform, the offense will have to abandon its job of leading the attack to help protect their own goal.

Great defenses have a great captain to keep the defense organized and prepared to protect the goal. The defensive captain is often overshadowed by the leading goal scorer because others do not see the tangible results of their job, protecting the team's goal. One thing is certain, the defensive captain is extremely critical to protect the team from the attack by the other team or from within. 

Expectations and protocols comprise the defense or management of your organization. These structures protect the organization by keeping the team in tact so that effectiveness is preserved and efficiency is improved. The defensive captain is the manager, and they ensure that everyone knows what to do and supports them in getting the work done. They also hold others accountable in a positive and tactful way when members of the team fail to uphold their end of doing a good job. In essence, they sustain the initiatives or improvements that are brought about by the leader.

The Relationship between the Leader and Manager

This relationship is codependent. One can't be successful without the other. The manager needs to know where the leader is guiding the team, and the leader must know the status of the organization before he can lead the team through the next venture. Communication is critical and trust is paramount to the relationship. Adversarial relationships between managers and leaders will cause the team to lose because the link between offense and defense will be based on competition or confusion rather than collaboration. Managers and leaders with a strong commitment to each other support one another in times of loss or failure. They come together to learn from each other with the explicit goal of guiding the team to victory.

Role Reversal

Successful partnerships between the leader and manager are fluid.  Leaders and managers with relationships forged in respect take turns leading and managing.  Situations dictate who should lead and who should manage.  Position in the organizational hierarchy exists but does not have to limit the positions from leading or managing.  In fact, some of the best leaders are managers and vice versa.  The decision of when to lead and when to manage is based on the strengths of both parts, prior experience and the issues within the given dilemma.

If a team has a deep desire to win, the big game, leaders and managers must work together. Their roles are equally vital to both improve and sustain the team. If either role fails to commit, the team will deteriorate little by little and eventually fail. Every organization lives and dies by the relationship between the leader and the manager.

In the game of school improvement everyone is vital. The ultimate leader or manager knows this, and if they act with selfless leadership, the school will win everytime.

1 comment:

  1. I love it! Trust and Communication are critical in a PLC! I think you have a nice blog. It's not too busy! I often blog on ASCD EDge. I started my own blog four years ago, with the hopes that educators would post comments and discuss educational topics. I did not have many people viewing my site. Over 40,000 educators belong to ASCD EDge. It is fun posting and sharing ideas with educators. My original website and blog are online at