In this essay we explore the relationship between management practices and a basic governance dilemma: how to manage flexibly and accountably. The challenge is both practical and theoretical. Managers must respond flexibly to the changing demands and expectations of the public and the ever-changing nature of public problems, yet they must do so in a manner that provides accountability to the public and political overseers. A dichotomous approach to the study of leadership as management action and the governance structures within which managers operate has inhibited the search for a public management theory that reconciles the dilemma. Emphasis upon managers as leaders typically focuses on the flexible actions managers might take to overcome structural “barriers,” while emphasis upon governance structures typically focuses on the essential role of structure in ensuring accountability and restraining or motivating particular management efforts. The practicing manager, however, cannot deal with these aspects of the work separately. Managers must attend to demands for both flexible leadership action and structures that promise accountability. Anecdotal evidence provides illustrations of some of the ways that managers can integrate these demands. We suggest that these efforts point to an alternative theoretical framework that understands action and structure as mutually constitutive, creating a dynamic tension in which attention to one requires attention to the other.