People are often confused about the difference between the role of a manager and that of a leader. In my book Healing the Corporate World, I discuss the idea that the role of a true leader is to be of service to her business community and those running it. A good leader puts the greater good of all above her own personal needs. She engenders trust, encourages collaboration and becomes the catalyst for 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 her vision and inspire and motivate others toward that vision.
Differences Between Leaders and Managers
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. Her job is to plan, organize and coordinate projects.
In his 1989 book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis offers 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. However, during these challenging times individuals are often executing both roles simultaneously. To do so is not necessarily a negative.
Four Categories to Consider
- Pure Managers – managers who execute processes and plans
- Dual Players – leaders who also take on management roles or vice versa
- Emerging Leaders – leaders who are in management roles while training to move into leadership roles
- Pure Leaders – leaders who create visions and move companies in the direction of those visions.
If you want to move into a leadership role within your business, then it may be time to move from a pure manager role to that of a dual player. From there, the more leadership skills and input you bring to the table, the stronger your position as an emerging pure leader.
To prepare to advance, look for opportunities to “wear the shoes” of the leadership role you wish to assume. Slowly but surely find opportunities to acquire the skills and insight needed to execute that role effectively. When an opening does appear, you’ll be ready to stand comfortably in the shoes of your new leadership position.
Maria Gamb served for 20-plus years as an executive in businesses valued at upwards of 100 million dollars. She is founder/CEO of NMS Communications, where she helps executives and entrepreneurs claim their ability to lead profitable, innovative and effective businesses. Maria is also the Amazon best selling author of Healing the Corporate World. She’s the host of the Value 2 Vision Retreat. Find out more about Maria Gamb at www.mariagamb.com