✨ Leadership vs Management

Are you Harry or Hermione?

Sean Handley
2 min readJan 5, 2024

Did you know that leadership and management are not the same thing?

For a long time, I had no idea that these two disciplines can be seen as separate (but tightly related) topics. Let’s examine this through the lens of our favourite young wizards.

🤓 Hermione — The Manager

Hermione Granger is the classic archetypal school swot. She’s on top of every detail of her studies (and those of Harry and Ron), she always pays attention, she always knows the context of what’s going on and can very quickly get things on track if they’re going off-track.

In my opinion, this is definitely a large part of being an effective people manager. You really need to pay attention to what’s going on so you can quickly guide people from where they are now to where they should be next. You stay on top of all the details that might affect you and your team, and people rely on you as “the voice of reason”. There might be times where you have to convince people to do what’s right vs what’s easy, but that’s a part of the job — holding people accountable for the benefit of the team overall.

🛡 Harry — The Leader

Harry Potter is not a perfect student by any means. He gets distracted, he loses his temper quickly, and he tends to act quickly before really thinking things through. However, he’s an inspirational leader. He cares deeply about his friends and is happy to take risks to help and defend them. He inspires a fierce loyalty in people, which makes them happy to follow him (often into mortal peril).

Harry isn’t completely reckless— he puts together plans and he convinces people to follow them. But he’s not a manager, on top of every little detail. He doesn’t use process and discipline to help himself and his team. He’s a leader, able to convince people to follow him into a pit of spiders because that’s what needs to be done.

🤝 The Right Mix For a Team

So what does this mean for a team? Well, teams need both archetypes — sometimes embodied in one person, often encapsulated in qualities of multiple people on the team.

We need someone able to manage the processes, the details, the long term plan, the strategy, to bridge the gaps between theory and practice. But we also need someone to give us direction, meaning, purpose, inspiration and the bravery to challenge and push ourselves further than we think we can go.

So who’s your Hermione? Who’s your Harry? How do they work together to steer your team?