People are often confused between the roles of a manager and those of a leader.
In my book Healing the Corporate World, I offer the simple concept that a leader is truly here to be of service to their business community and those running it. Additionally the role of a good leader is to put the greater good of all above their own personal needs. They must engender trust, encourage collaboration and be the catalyst for great, big, new ideas. Even the smallest tweak to a business can snowball into a massive idea that changes the business. The leader’s main function is to communicate their vision, and inspire and motivate others towards that vision.
But what is the difference between a leader and a manager?
A manager is logistically focused. Managers are part of the organization, which acts as the control or administrative arm focused on a specific function. For example, the Marketing Manager controls and administrates the needs of the marketing arm of the business. Their greatest strengths are to plan, organize and coordinate projects.
In his 1989 book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis composed a concise list of the differences:
- The manager administers; the leader innovates.
- The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
- The manager maintains; the leader develops.
- 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’s eye is 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.
Every organization needs both leaders and managers
Often times there is a challenge raised that not every organization should compress both into the same role. However, during these challenging times in the new frontier of business today, individuals are often executing both roles simultaneously. It may not necessarily be a negative to do so.
There are 4 categories to consider:
- Pure Managers – Managers who execute the process and plans
- Dual Players – Leaders who often also take on manager roles or vice versa
- Emerging Leader – Leaders who are also managing a process but are in training to move into the stand-alone leader role
- Pure Leaders – Leaders who create vision and a movement to get there
If you are a person who wants to move into the leadership role in your business then it’s time to move from your “pure manager” role into a “dual player”. From there, the more leadership skills and input you bring to the table will position you as someone “emerging” for the “pure leader” role down the line.
To prepare someone to advance, there is a methodology that I’ve witnessed, tried and executed many times —give the person you want to advance the opportunity to wear the shoes of the role they wish to be in before they have it. Slowly but surely give them opportunity to acquire the skills and insight needed over time to execute the new role effectively. When the opening appears to advance that person, they will be ready to stand comfortably in those new shoes and jump into their new role much easier. This makes the transition for the individual and the surrounding team much easier.