You can arrange these two leadership functions — managing things and leading people — on a matrix (see illustration).
Strong Manager, Weak Leader. This person prepares excellent plans, but nothing gets done. At one company, managers wrote business plan after business plan and made projection after projection. When the company missed a plan, the CEO just developed another one. Nothing was implemented on time or to budget. People felt no responsibility and little got accomplished.
Weak Manager, Strong Leader. This leader is likely to take his organization right over a cliff as he runs out of resources, breaks laws, or attempts the clearly impossible. One of the strongest leaders I ever knew was good on everything except sticking to the law. Unfortunately, people would follow him blindly. The company was performing very well, but had set targets too high. The leader gave people the sense that he didn’t care how they met the targets. They bent the accounting rules, and he ignored that. Eventually, the management team was censured and fired, and the company lost major market value.
Weak Manager, Weak Leader. This is the ineffective CEO who neither plans well nor accomplishes important goals. He does not usually last long, or the company will stagnate or fail.
Strong Manager, Strong Leader. This is the CEO who does most things right. She sees that the necessary things are scheduled and happen on time, on budget, and to acceptable quality standards. She sees that the right people are in place, are stimulated to exceptional performance, and are handled promptly as needed if they underperform.