For decades, academics and business commentators have debated the differences between administrators, managers, and leaders, almost to the point of considering them to be different approaches. Interest in the topic has increased in line with the growing size and complexity of organisations, and the global discussion continues today. In my view, this needs to be a discussion of balance.

There are two compelling reasons why CEOs should understand how the three differ. The associated skills and traits impact performance at every level of an organisation, and applying the knowledge can turn an average CEO into a great one.

The optimal organisation

In simple terms, most corporate structures can be summarised as a pyramid with individual contributors, managers, and leaders at the top. Each contributor has responsibilities they need to prioritise in order to drive success. The impact of decisions and the requirement to navigate complexity to get the ‘big things’ right increases exponentially as one rises to the top…