Managers vs. Leaders

Are you currently a manager, or do you aspire to become one? Do you consider yourself a leader? The reason there are two different questions, is because there could be two different answers. Most people believe a manager and leader are the same thing, but this statement is not accurate. Anyone who has worked within any company has seen proof of this. Within all companies, the role of manager is certainly an important one. The position is purely authoritative, intended to keep the employees following the process and rules. One could even argue that the leadership aspect of some of these manager roles is not always required.

Not all managers are leaders. "Manager" is just a job title. Conversely, not all leaders are managers. Some individuals lead from behind, regardless of their corporate rank. These people motivate and inspire everyone around them to perform at a higher level, by offering encouragement and leading by example. Leadership is a personality characteristic, not related to any specific title. It is something you have to decide to become, and practice to improve.

Within our corporate world, many people get promoted into management without having the leadership persona. Someone could be an ace at performing within a skilled support role, but that doesn't automatically make them leadership material. They may have mastered the intellectual IQ requirements for that technical role, but may have not developed the EQ (Emotional Quotient) to lead people. Some managers are just not interested in managing people, but will accept the promotion for the title, status, or salary increase. Once in that position, we find they under-perform compared to their previous roles. These managers still want to focus on the technical side of their role, and disregard their human resource requirements. Managers like this will cause your talented employees to look elsewhere. Most people quit their boss, not the company. When considering the promotion of someone, companies need to stop prioritizing tenure ahead of talent. People should never deserve a promotion, they should earn it. Great companies will be able to identify which individuals will flourish within specific roles.

Each of us has experienced good and bad managers. Fortunately, we can learn from both. The bad managers exhibit indecisiveness, negative attitudes, and poor business habits. These failures provide us with invaluable experience. If you take a look back along your career, your best managers will be easy to identify. These are the people you still retain contact with, even after years of having worked together. You still bounce ideas, ask advice from, and network with them. They likely have become friends with you. The main difference between the good and bad, is that the good managers actually cared about you and the rest of their team. This is what separates managers from leaders. Leaders care about the individuals on their team, and understand what uniquely motivates each person. Leaders never ask their reports to do things they would not do themselves, or haven't done themselves. Leaders are interested in the personal development of their team members, and do not avoid the career development plans or mentoring responsibilities. Leaders want each member on their team to succeed within their current role, as well as their future roles. Leaders do not hold down superstars.

Take this moment to evaluate yourself as a leader, with one simple question. Would your team follow you anywhere you go, or will they cheer the day they quit working for you? Hopefully the answer is a positive one. If not, hope is not lost. This is something you can improve upon. Start today.