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Managing to Lead
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Are You Managing to Lead?
By Monty J. Sharp, CPBA
For many people, the terms "manager" and "leader" are synonymous. In
the business world, they are often used interchangeably, i.e. "team
leader", "team manager", "project manager" - you get the idea. And why
not? After all, leaders and managers do basically the same thing, right?
In some instances, there do seem to be commonalities between the two
and management techniques are sometimes confused with leadership
traits. However, there are, I believe, some key distinctions to be made
that radically separate the two.
Here then, are what I consider to be some key differences between a leader and a manager:
1. A manager administers. A leader innovates.
Managers take policies and procedures and ensure that they are
carried out. Leaders are constantly challenging the "status quo" to
achieve bigger and better things.
2. A manager maintains. A leader develops.
As long as things are running smoothly, the manager is typically
happy. The leader is never satisfied with the "status quo" or "the way
we've always done it". Leaders are constantly asking for more and
bigger things - of themselves as well as those they lead.
3. Managers rely on control. Leaders inspire trust.
Managers can feel threatened by subordinates who don't seem to be
"towing the line". In doing so, they create a co-dependency in the
subordinates who, in turn, rely on the manager to dictate nearly every
step of the process. Leaders know how to tap into the inherent
strengths of those they lead and then foster those strengths to the
benefit of the organization.
4. A manager has his eye only on the "bottom line". A leader has his eye on the horizon as well.
In orienteering (using a map and compass) you must set your sights
on a distant object to get an accurate bearing. If you take only
short-range sightings, it is much more likely you will stray far off
the right course. In the same way, "bottom lining" only without also
"visioning" can result in ending up at a destination you did not plan
5. The manager imitates. The leader originates.
While using "tried and true" methods isn't always a bad thing,
someone else's methods may not be exactly right for every organization.
Leaders aren't afraid to try new, and even unorthodox, methods to
achieve optimum results.
6. Managers focus on product. Leaders focus on process.
While still holding to the principles of quality, productivity and
efficiency, the leader is able to recognize the effort as well as the
7. Managers need lots of positive feedback. Leaders have an innate sense of their own self-worth.
Everyone likes a "pat on the back" for a job well done. However,
managers rely heavily on things like "performance reviews",
"appraisals" and "kudos" from their supervisors and their subordinates
to demonstrate a job well done. They also tend to rely heavily on those
tools as motivators for their subordinates.
8. Managers need subordinates. Leaders strive to develop other leaders.
Leaders are always in the process of developing other leaders.
Managers tend to feel very threatened when they perceive someone may be
"passing them up".
9. Managers tell "what". Leaders share "why".
The manager is primarily concerned with simply giving the steps to
achieve the desired result. The leader also takes the time to explain
why those steps are crucial to the desired result. In doing so, the
leader is also imparting his "vision" to those that help make that
vision a reality.
10. Managers are more concerned with doing things right. Leaders are more concerned with doing the right thing.
Managers tend to be very "order" and "structure" oriented. Leaders
have a keen sense of the "spirit of the law" and aren't afraid to
"bend" the rules if it will achieve a greater good for everyone.
Copyright © 2002, Monty J. Sharp
Monty J. Sharp is an Executive Coach, communications and
teambuilding consultant, corporate trainer and Certified Professional
Behavioral Analyst. He, along with his partner, Laura Terrebonne,
co-founded Vision to Venture, LLC, an executive
coaching company dedicated to providing an interpersonal approach to
high performance Executives, managers and work teams. Our highly
effective and balanced approach to leadership development, teambuilding
and action learning get both business related as well as human results.
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