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The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Tuesday, 6th November 2007
 
Make no mistake - to maximize your own effectiveness you have to be able to function both as a leader and as a manager.

The trick is to know precisely when to go into the manager mode and when to become that servant type leader. I once read a quote on the difference between a manager and a leader that stated:

"A Manager "does the thing right" and a Leader "does the right thing."

How Do You Become a Who?

I don’t know who said that but it is quite a simplification. First of all, a manager doesn’t always do the thing right and conversely leaders don’t always do the right thing.

Oh sure, most leaders do the right thing most of the time, but what the “right thing is can cause quite a debate and who gets to decide what the right thing really is?

And who decides who and what is actually right. How does one get to become a who?

Doing the Right Thing

Doing the right thing doesn’t sound very complex for a person of character and integrity but think about this for a second.

During my ten years as a turn-a-round specialists there were several occasions when I had to sacrifice the jobs of many to save a company and the jobs of others. Was that the right thing to do in the eyes of those that lost their job, their income, their security?

If you were the wife, the husband or the child of one of those employees that were sacrificed for the sake of survival of the company would you think that it was “the right” thing to do?  We are not talking about malcontents, under performers and employees with issues. We’re talking about pure innocent sacrifice here.

All of a sudden, “the right thing” gets a little more complicated. That’s why I quit being a Turn-A-Round specialist after ten years. I got tired of being the “Darth Vadar of Distribution”.

Leaders Inspire Others to Greatness

True leaders inspire others to greatness. In spite of what may seem the contrary, being a true leader in times of sacrifice and turbulence is even more important than in normal times?

However, it’s equally important to adapt to the role of manager as well when sacrifice is necessary. I often talk about compassion as both a strength and a weakness when it comes to individual leadership models. I have met numerous CEOs that boast of long tenure employees.

However, there are some that earn that tenure simply due to the compassion of ownership. Certainly compassion for people is a strength but it can become a weakness if it stands in the way of accountability and maximizing the effectiveness of the organization.

The Balance of Compassion and Performance

So how does an effective leader balance compassion with performance and accountability? A leader must demonstrate the need for maximizing performance to the team. This is communicated more by action than words. Tolerance for the lack of excellence or sub par performance sends a distinct message. The wrong message.

A leader must lead by example whereas a manager uses direction and enforcement of policy and procedure to accomplish specific tasks. Of course, a manager must also be able to lead as well.

Sound confusing? It is……… There is a fine line between leadership and management. A line that is often shifting according to circumstance. If you are going to maximize growth and profitability in your organization that means that every manager must become an effective leader.

A leader encourages, leads by example, cares about the team and gives regular feedback. People need to be recognized and praised. A leader influences and inspires others to believe in themselves and to follow a vision for the future.

Communication is essential, knowing when to go into the manager mode and become less a servant is also necessary. This mode should be the exception but it does exist for even the greatest leaders and it is necessary at times. In fact, a true test of an effective leader is knowing when to go into the manager mode. Effective communication can stir emotions and emotions can become a powerful motivator.

Confidence, Self Esteem or Ego?

We all have egos but effective leaders control their own egos and understand how to utilize their understanding of people to inspire peak performance. They are confident and have high self esteem without demonstrating arrogance. Leadership can not be ego driven but good leaders command a presence when they walk into the room.

They are not only compassionate but they are passionate about success and they make every effort to coach and mentor their team. However, a leader can't afford to waste too much time in the minutiae of the team. In fact a functioning team will solve many of its own problems and they are expected to. This happens when the right people are on the team.

Leaders lead by example, they delegate and empower people. They also seem to have a keen sense about selecting and developing the right people. That in itself is a key difference in transcending from being just a manager to becoming an effective leader.

Selecting the right people with potential to excel and then developing those people through the coaching and mentoring process to achieve greatness is a primary responsibility of leadership. Effective leaders know precisely when to coach, when to mentor and when to manage.

So what’s the Difference?

In reality if you are going to be responsible for the actions and results of others it just isn’t good enough to be only a manager. Effectively, managing is about leadership. Personally, I believe to be really effective, there is no difference. An effective leader must be a good manager and a good manager effectively must be a good leader.

The results will speak for themselves in the long run...

E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com if you would like a copy of the “Lead Wolf Leadership Creed”.

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution’s “Leadership Strategist”, founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.  Don’t forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business.www.ceostrategist.com
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