Flashlight and Candlelight Leadership

A leader and manager are two distinct personalities that occur in the mind of those in management positions. The leader side is similar to the creative thought process of the brain and the manager side is similar to the logical thought process of the brain. Balance is not about an even split between the leader and manager personality. Balance is the understanding that most of us start as managers and take action to evolve and incorporate our leadership potential.

A manager will provide the facts of what needs to be done and when the project is due. The leader will ask the team what ideas do you have and what how much time do you need? Sir Ken Robinson stated, “A creative leader does not have all the ideas. A creative leader will create a culture where everyone will have ideas.” The manager communicates the foundation of the task and the leader provides the tools to complete the task.

Michael Jones’ essay depicted the difference of the flashlight world and the candlelight world. The manager personality similar to the flashlight world thrives on control, logic, absolutes and patterns. The leader personality similar to the candle world provides the warmth, trust, and connection.  For example, if the person was on a boat, the gas ran out, and the radio was broken. The manager personality would compute how many people is on board, how much food is left, and is there enough water to last for a set number of days. The leader personality would consider the options to get the boat moving again and raise hope. In addition, the leader will think about building a sail from the bed sheets, if rowing is possible, and ask others to share their ideas.

“Through their collective eyes and ears we can see and engage a world of infinite complexity.” – Michael Jones

The manager personality would formulate the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Unfortunately, some managers would focus too much on the weaknesses and not bring the team to its full potential. In addition, the manager may rely heavily on a “go to” person and creates extra burdens on the “go to” person and animosity within the team. The leader personality will focus on the strengths of each team member and make them stronger. Then as a collective, the strengths of each member could be shared and the weaknesses of the team dissolve.

A successful balance is an awakening process when many start their management journey as a manager and complete their journey by incorporating their leadership potential. Managers are common in this world and what separates them is their pursuit of their acquiring and sharpening their leadership skills. It is easy live in what is comfortable and known, however, every great leader must make that journey into the unknown to increase their potentials and achieve success.


  • What world do you thrive in, the flashlight world or the candlelight world?
  • What do you like or dislike about the flashlight or candlelight world?
  • How do you balance your perspectives?


Jones, Michael. (2009). Transforming Leadership through the Power of Imagination. The Integral Leadership Review.

Robinson, Sir Ken. Creative Leadership. Source: You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAGHCwlfh-o#t=33

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