I pondered about today’s topic when writing my last post and I wanted to highlight some differences between a manager and a leader. Throughout my career I’ve noted a few areas of separation between those individuals acting as leaders and those acting as managers. Below we’ll walk through five of these noted areas:
Leading People versus Managing People: Management defines itself by directing a set of tasks and resources in efforts to achieve an objective. Leadership defines itself as the ability to motivate, influence and enable others in their pursuit of success. In this area, inspiration is what a leader portrays, versus the perception of control which a manager likely portrays.Influence versus Power: Managers are more likely to create a superior / inferior relationship hierarchy within their span of control where leaders are likely to create a non-hierarchical environment with 360-communication and a circle of trust. Leaders are likely to have others come to them seeking advice, where managers will have others seeking minimal interaction with them outside of deadlines and deliverable submission.Risky Vision versus Risk-adverse Mission: Leaders are likely to be strategic and visionary where managers are likely to be risk-adverse and focused on specific missions. I like to think a leader can take an organization to greatness, where a manager can oversee an organization that will expect to see flat profits and minimal growth.Creating Value versus Creating Products / Services: Managers are typically managing people, asking for updates and not empowering their employees in achievement of a final product, service or deliverable. Leaders on the other hand, are likely to generate value from the team, whether as a team member or providing wisdom, they lead by example and drive the organization towards success.Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) versus Performance Metrics: We start here with the fact that a KPI is a metric, but a metric is not necessarily a KPI. Managers will keenly monitor the performance of their organizational silo, where a leader is apt to develop KPIs that measure the performance of their organizational silo but also align and monitor with the overall health of the broader enterprise.
I like to think that most people can develop into a leader AND a successful manager. Although a manager title in many cases is given to you, for others to consider you a leader they have to see the qualities of someone they would likely want to follow. Remember that in order to be an effective leader, others must want to respect you and the more you do for your people, the more likely you will be perceived as a leader.