The present study focuses on a manager’s understanding of leadership and how this guides – or does not guide practice. The paper reports an empirical in-depth study of a middle manager in an international manufacturing company. We link our discussion to both – the mainstream leadership studies, which assume that managers have a solid type of leadership behavior, and authors with a meaning-oriented, linguistic approach to leadership, in which language, self-awareness, and behavior are linked. The present study suggests that leadership attempts can vary, be divisive, and that a manager’s advocacy efforts are driven by a multitude of different, partly opposing, forces, meaning a decoupling of ideas and behavior in leadership practice. The paper raises the question of whether managers’ meanings of leadership correspond with what they do in practice.