AM2022 Live - Leadership or Management. Would you Rather?

April 5, 2022
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Leadership
  • Professional Development
Large group of annual meeting attendees sitting in chairs.

Presenters Aimee Leturmy from Bentley University, and Katherine Cloud, from George Washington University posed the following question to 107th AACRAO Annual Meeting attendees in their session "Leadership or Management, Would You Rather?"

Which is Better?

The session, and questions, were popular (standing room only) and inspired a number of thoughtful discussions amongst attendees throughout. Presenters Aimee and Katherine outlined the key qualities that make a good manager, those that make a good leader, and where those skills intersect. Beginning with managers, the presenters highlighted the following as typical skills and focal points:

  • Planning and Organization
  • Resource Usage
  • Coordination and Time Management
  • Problem Resolution
  • Effective Communicators
  • Risk Minimization
  • Process Driven

Leaders, the presenters said, tended to focus on:

  • Providing Vision and Motivation
  • Listening
  • Mentoring
  • Challenging Norms
  • Embracing Change
  • Innovation and Creative Solutions
  • Focusing on Teamwork & Skill Development

The presenters referred to case studies from their personal experiences throughout the session and invited attendees to look at, critique, and question their approaches. One of the case studies outlined the following situation: 

We had staff members in multiple locations working in varied formats. One fully remote, two full-time in-person, and the rest hybrid across multiple campuses. One of our new staff members asked to take a 30-minute lunch break instead of an hour and have her work hours be from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The supervisor, on the same campus as the new staff member, was not in favor of this fearing that other staff who may have performance issues will want to do this as well. In response I  let the supervisor know that the accommodation of a 30-minute lunch is already being done with staff. The s upervisor was not in favor of this change and commented "It is your decision but I am not in favor of this."

After outlining the situation the presenters gave the following examples of both a managerial approach and a leadership approach to the situation:


  • Mitigates risk
  • Ensures coverage
  • Works to determine the HR process if moving forward with the idea
  • Addresses potential performance issues that come up in light of the suggestion


  • Looks to ensure the entire team is being treated equitably
  • Guides supervisors to a decision that makes sense for the entire team
  • Talks about bigger picture concepts (office hours as a whole? Importance of work/life balance)

The conclusion to the case study ended using a blend of approaches with Ms. Cloud commenting:

We ended up having staff send proposals for what they would like; some stuck with the original schedule, others chose 7-4

And when asked if she ever managed to get supervisor buy-in to the new approach, she said:

She is more on board now than she was, I think she’s starting to see the benefits of it. She’s still kind of skeptical, but she’s getting there... I think she’s beginning to separate the performance issues from adjusted schedules

In concluding the session both presenters invited attendees to join the discussion, ask questions, and comment on the question "Which is better?" A selection of responses included:

  • I think there are qualities in both, certainly for the Registrar's office, what I have found - one important quality is humility a manager or a leader must demonstrate humility. We also have to acknowledge that we are fallible - humility and the acknowledgment of fallibility
  • Management can be automated, you don’t need people to manage, but you need people to be leaders, we will always need leaders because computers can’t do that.
  • I don’t think there is one that’s better, you have to have both to have a healthy organization
  • It’s important to be "customizable"; managers and leaders should be flexible to employee needs and styles

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