Archive for May 29th, 2012

I am not a Manager, I am a Leader May 29th, 2012

Vinod Kumar

When I wrote my last post around – “Being diffident, how can you lead?” a lot of comments had come around the topic of Manager and Leader and thought it will be nice to write some of my thoughts around the same. The fundamental differences are – management focuses on getting work done on time, on budget and on target, while leadership focuses on change, vision and innovation.

Leadership begins where management ends.

For many years, management was the more inclusive term and included leadership — along with motivating, planning, communicating, organizing etc. But the concept of leadership got singled out and given a separate mention with attention. I truly value the need to motivate your employees and you need someone who has a broader vision and passion to rally around and hence a true leader is a must. The point is "Leader VS Manager" is a myth. They are not mutually exclusive. In reality people always have shades of both. Just like in history all great men MK Gandhi, Mandela were all great leaders but they had very few things in common; except that they inspired people.

The manager must lead to be productive and the leader must manage to be effective.

If someone is a good leader does not mean that the person is bad manager. You can’t just put innovation in leader’s basket, and if manager comes out with a really innovative idea then it is not a fluke. Though I am just describing some of the traits as differences, these are not the black-and-white statements.

When we are on this subject – let me also point you to the other post I wrote around – Traits seen in bad managers. That will also be a good read if you haven’t read it yet.

Leader VS Manager

How can I define in simple terms the fundamental differences? Here is my take (yet not complete) –

  1. Leaders lead people. Managers manage people. – the simple definition.
  2. The manager has an eye always on the bottom line, the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
  3. Leaders set destinations via vision. Managers navigate the roads to get there.
  4. Leaders cultivate change and creates culture. Managers cultivate creating stability – hence enacts culture.
  5. The manager does things right, the leader does the right thing.
  6. The manager acts as boss, the leader acts as coach and facilitator.
  7. Leaders appeals to the heart. Managers appeal to the head.
  8. Managers are about reaching goals while Leaders have vision to inspire.
  9. The manager relies on control on people, the leader inspires trust on people.
  10. Leaders have followers. Managers have subordinates. (BTW, twitter and FB followers don’t count you to be a leader :))
  11. Leaders take ownership. Managers take responsibility.
  12. The manager accepts the status quo for work, the leader challenges you.
  13. Leaders are proactive. Managers are reactive.
  14. The manager creates boundaries, the leader plays as if there were no boundaries.
  15. Leaders catalyze leaps of improvement, managers improve things only incrementally, by tweaking existing processes and systems.
  16. Leaders accomplish achievements. Managers accomplish compliance.
  17. Leaders engages conflicts for ideas and solutions while Managers avoid/manage conflict.
  18. Leaders are concerned what is right and managers are concerned about being right.

Leaders are ordinary human being with extraordinary qualities. These extra ordinary qualities make them leaders. Other distinction between leaders and managers is that “Leaders create hopes and dreams and engage, inspire and align managers to achieve those hopes and dreams they have set.”

Organizations need both of these traits of people to function properly. I know there are many more traits you wish and please drop me a line on your thoughts on what you feel is a great trait of an effective leader and manager.

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