Courtney Spence on Comparing Non-Profit Leadership and Management

In Chapter 8 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Courtney Spence answers "How Do Leadership and Management Differ in What You Do?"  Spence shares how both leadership and management play into her Executive Director work in the midst of her organizational growth phase.  She details the vision casting elements of leadership and the one-on-one nature of management in describing the differences.  Courtney Spence returns to CYF for her Year 3 interview.  As Founder and Executive Director, Spence leads non-profit Students of the World to empower college students to use film, photography, and journalism to tell stories of global issues and the organizations working to address them.  Spence graduated with a BA in History from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: How do leadership and management differ in what you do?

Courtney Spence: Leadership is about setting the big goals and having the vision and having the guts to go after it, and having the ability to be confident even in the times when you’re not wholly confident, and I’m not saying it’s an act, I think there is an essential quality of a leader to be honest in the moment and as, you know, we’re going through a time of scale and growth, it is scary, it is exciting but it’s also scary, and I think being able to acknowledge that fully to the people that you’re working with and that work for you, is really important, but it’s also really important to stay really strong emotionally and stay really strong in your convictions. And kind of set that tone as you head upward or westward or wherever that looks like.

Management to me is about – is much more a one-on-one relationship and helping people continue to stay on that path with the organization, and with the leadership that’s been provided, and really making sure that everybody has a say in that and is a part of that, and feels engaged in the big vision, and engaged in how we’re gonna get there. And that they are encouraged when they need to be, but also that, you know, if certain people are starting to fall off, or this isn’t the right journey for them, being able to see that as it cultivates and really anticipate that before it becomes an issue. And I think that management to me is a much more personal one-on-one relationship and leadership is much more of here we are, big family, and we’re headed west, and this is what we’re gonna go do. So they’re very different but they’re very – they’re equally important and equally challenging too.