On Leadership versus Management

Since being elected chair of Lambda Phi Epsilon, and more recently of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, I’ve increasingly had to straddle a fine line between that of visionary leadership and pragmatic management.  As the guy that’s trying to herd cats in one direction, I find it increasingly difficult to be figuring out the direction while herding the cats themselves.  How does one do it?

Visionary Leadership:

In my mind, visionary leadership encompasses figuring out the direction of an organization, and the determination of the future state.  It’s critically important that a leader has an idea of where the organization is headed.  It’s not enough that operations maintain stable over the course of his/her term, things must improve in some way.  Thus, the leader must be a visionary in that he has initiatives he wants to accomplish and an idea of the future-state of the organization.

Pragmatic Management:

Pragmatic management involves the task of actually implementing and making things happen so that the organization moves forward into the future state.  Words without actions are meaningless, and I find that it is equally important knowing how to deal with coworkers, staff, and colleagues in order to execute.

The difficulty that I see is that most people are unable to do both effectively.  To mitigate that weakness, is it prudent to split up those responsibilities into two separate positions?  I know of several organizations, both private and public, that have done this (CEO taking care of the leading and COO in charge of the management).  My initial feeling is that this is a good model to follow and to implement.

The trick here comes when you’re managing a volunteer organization.  I sat through an excellent talk while I visited Duke University, Leading without Followers.  I think it really hit upon the point that leading volunteers takes special skill, because those people are just doing it out of the goodness of their heart.  If you can lead and manage volunteers, you can probably lead and manage anything.

Let’s see how well I’ll hold up to this task.

Good Job USA, you let Canada overtake you…

This morning I came across an article in the Washington Post: “U.S. goes from leading to lagging in young college graduates.”  by Daniel de Vise (link included below)


With all the colleges, universities, and vocational schools across the United States, we somehow still managed to fall from number 1 in the world for folks aged 25-34 with post-secondary degrees to number 12;  Canada jumped to number 1.  What the heck is going on?

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Leadership Development Programs: NetKAL

A couple of days ago I was invited to a NetKAL dinner by Jason Scott Park.  What is NetKAL you might ask?  NetKAL stands for the Network of Korean American Leaders, a program organized by the Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership at the University of Southern California.  Each year (or so), NetKAL takes a group of accomplished Korean Americans to be NetKAL fellows, and develops their leadership potential through networking events, professional seminars, and summits.

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Bending the Curve, Education Style.

I recently read an article in the Pacific Citizen, JACL‘s newspaper, titled “CSU Votes to Grant Honorary Degrees to WWII Internees.”  Warren T. Furutani, a State Assemblyman in California, introduced a bill last year to grant honorary degrees to those Nisei students who were forced to drop out of school during WWII and sent to internment camps here in the USA.

It seems a little silly to only now recognize the importance of this bill, especially since it’s been a year after it was passed, but this story is not only about recognizing the sacrifice of fellow Americans.  It is also about recognizing the importance of education.  By granting honorary degrees to those who failed to complete their studies, we recognize how important a college degree is.

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