Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

Manager or Leader, which wall are you climbing?

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Whether you’re a manager or a leader (you can be both) you need to know the business well. But, a leader is someone who has the capacity to create a compelling vision that takes people to a new place, and to translate that vision into action. Leaders draw other people to them by enrolling them in their vision. What leaders do is inspire people, empower them.

They pull rather than push. This “pull” style of leadership attracts and energizes people to enroll in a vision of the future. It motivates people by helping them identify with the task and the goal rather than by rewarding or punishing them.

There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important “To manage” means “to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct.” “Leading” is “influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion.” The distinction is crucial.

Management is…                                            Leadership is….

Coping with complexity                                Coping with and promoting change

Planning and Budgeting                                Setting a Direction

Organizing and Staffing                                Aligning People

Controlling and Problem Solving                Motivating and Inspiring People

Effective Action                                               Meaningful Action

Again, Both are necessary and important.

Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment — effectiveness —versus activities of mastering routines — efficiency. The chart below indicates key words that further make the distinction between the two functions:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

The most dramatic differences between leaders and managers are found at the extremes: poor leaders are dictatorial, while poor managers are bureaucrats in the worst sense of the word. Whilst leadership is a human process and management is a process of resource allocation, both have their place and managers must also perform as leaders. All first-class managers turn out to have quite a lot of leadership ability.

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