One of the benefits of directing the curriculum at Wesley Seminary is that I get to learn a lot of things I wouldn't otherwise have had the time to. Yesterday I was looking at the second chapter of our own Bob Whitesel's book, Preparing for Change Reaction. There he was introducing the military distinction between strategic, tactical, and operational leaders. As simple as it is, I find this a very helpful distinction, and from his notes it is clearly a common distinction made with various terms.
Here's my own twist. From my own anecdotal experience, a whole lot of those who go into ministry think they are or want to be strategic leaders. This is the big picture visionary, the prophet who sees where things are going and where things need to go. It's arguably part of the preaching itch--you want to tell everyone what they need to be, what's wrong with society, etc. The problem is that, in my experience, very few people really are gifted strategic leaders.
On the other end of the spectrum are what Bob calls operational leaders. These are people who are good with accomplishing specific tasks and overcoming specific problems. These people because they get things done. Gibbs calls them "foremen." The military image Bob created in my mind is that of a sergeant who can lead a small cadre of troops up a hill. In a church, I have the picture of a person who can lead a group on a Habitat day or who organizes a pot-luck.
The big gap is what the military calls "tactical leaders." These are the administrators who can organize the specific operations needed to achieve strategic goals. These are detailed, precise people who aren't always the life of the party, but they know how to get from point A to point B. Without them, dreams evaporate and goals aren't reached.
Bob's advice for bringing about change in your church, university, or organization? Get your tactical leaders in place before you launch your new vision.