What is the difference between managers and leaders?
Too often these words are used interchangeably. I have known managers who believe they are leaders who are actually nothing more than managers.
The nuances in meaning are slight, but the business results are dramatically different. If you search online for the definition of a manager, MBN (Market Business News) defines it as:
A manager is a person who handles a part of a company, i.e., they ‘manage ‘the company. Managers may oversee a department and the people who work in it. In some cases, the manager oversees the whole business.
Martin Luther King defines a leader as:
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus,”
In my experience it is the companies that make a significant contribution in the universe are the ones that are led not controlled by people.
Are you a manager or a leader? Here are some examples of the differences between a manager and a leader.
- Oversees the current process Wants to create the future
- Must achieve balance Needs to make change happen
- Thinks execution Thinks ideas
- Comfortable with control Welcomes risks
- Problems are just that, and need resolution ASAP Sees problems as opportunities
- Procedure is king Substance trumps the king
- Instructs as to techniques and Processes Your best college professor
- Impersonal, remote High emotional intelligence
Here are my suggestions for ten simple habits that will help you in your career:
- Think for yourself
People who say, “That’s the way it’s always been done” to someone. When I do, I know they are trying to control not lead.
Without your knowledge of the people in your organization, including its customers, who have great ideas that could help your organization grow or improve.
Unfortunately, you also have many managers who stifle all suggestions from their staff. So, they give up, some great ideas are lost because senior managers never hear of.
So, your task as a leader is to make sure that you hear all ideas and suggestions. So, instill in your managers and staff the habit of having an open mind. Most importantly remember that the suggester gets a response. Even if it is a negative one, they know at least they have been heard.
- Look and Learn from the World
We operate in a competitive world and so we need to know what our competitors do that is successful.
If you hear anyone denigrating your competitors, then they are a manager. Managers like to control things but one thing they cannot control is the competition. So, they make them an enemy instead of an asset.
A leader understands that competitors can strengthen your company. Leaders pay attention to the competition. Not only what they are doing right, but what they are doing wrong. So, they can learn new and better ways to grow their own business.
When a leader explains their company’s values, they know how to explain the competitors’ values. And how they differ from their own. And they can do this without being negative about the other company.
- Listen to your Staff, they can think too.
Many managers are afraid to ask others for their opinions for many reasons. I believe the main reason is because by doing so they believe that they are losing control of the situation. Another reason is because they do not want a rival for their job. They fear that if someone in their team has better ideas than them, it is to their detriment.
But leaders love finding out what their staff think. This gives them the knowledge of how to manage their staff so are happy to ask them.
I learned this the hard way. I used to control and manage everything in my business. From the planning of events from training to marketing.
When you see low attendance at your events and training or find that few are embracing your new ideas. It is time to ask for help.
I ask members of my team about everything. Including what training to offer, how the marketing should look and when and where to host events.
By doing this, I got a consensus about what is important to them. And then I can make a decision that will benefit everyone.
When people are engaged in the decision-making process. They are more likely to accept whatever endeavors the leader is working on.
Even those who do not agree your decision still appreciate having been asked for their opinion. This means they are more likely to embrace new initiatives even if they do not agree with it.
- Stop Hogging the Last Word
Managers like control and one way they keep it is by assuming that they are right. At least most of the time, so need not ask anyone, particularly their staff.
Leaders have a different approach; they assume that they do not have all the answers. The best way to find the best answers is through collaboration with others on the team.
Most people believe that managers always try to maintain the status quo, and leaders have a special quality that makes them leaders.
This is not true; some leaders have an innate ability to know how to lead. But we can teach anyone how to be a leader. I have trained many managers over the years who become great leaders.
Consider that managers are often in the most thankless positions.
Their role is to make sure that the staff meet the company objectives no matter what their own opinion is.
I know when I was a junior manager, I sometimes I disagreed with the company policy. And had to try extremely hard to get my staff to follow it, but they knew I did not agree.
- Be accountable
Accountability in any organization must flow in all directions throughout the organization. The accepted flow is top to bottom.
But there must also be bottom to top and sideways between levels of management.
This will help to build and sustain a successful organization. Every person in the company must hold each other accountable, including those at the highest ranks.
Ensuring that higher levels of management are accountable, including the CEO, is important. Because the whole organization is involved with its success.
- Do not be a follower
You have seen how other people act around people they consider being superior to them.
They will be very subservient to those people they think are of higher rank than them. “Boot Lickers” was a term we used to use about their behavior.
Now I know that some CEO or other senior leaders expect you to act like that and others hate it.
So, the key is to always be yourself. Do not put up a front. Be genuine and stay true to who you are. It is easy to see through a charade. A senior manager will recognize you for what you are not what or who you pretend to be.
- Stop trying to always get the last ounce (nobody cares)
Deciding is every manager’s job, but some managers are afraid to decide in case it is wrong.
So, they are frightened to come forward until all the data is 100 percent certain. Which they believe will be to the detriment of their career.
I know that the opposite is true. If I see that one of my managers hesitates to decide, it marks them out as not being a candidate for more authority.
The problem is that if they had come forward earlier, even though the result is uncertain. It may help senior managers to discover what is missing or wrong sooner, thus saving them a lot of time and money.
Remember the 80/20 rule. You need not know everything to make a good decision as what you do not know may even add significant value. By acting this way, you are showing an ability to decide in the face of uncertainty.
- Avoid being caught unaware
Before I mentioned that communications should be down, up, and sideways. To increase your chances of getting a promotion, you need to develop many information sources in your organization.
Some organizations and people think it is incorrect for you, or anyone else, to speak with other people outside of your own area.
I say this is wrong, that thinking stops qualified staff from being noticed and promoted.
To be successful, you need feedback. From not only your front-line employees but also those above and on the same level as you.
In any organization, there are key opinion leaders find them and listen to them. You ensure that they will deal with you. Because they are communicating with other employees and influencing perceptions. So, you need to be in their orbit of influence.
- Avoid doing what others do
My long experience in many organizations and at many management levels has taught me that a big part of the job is managing behavior.
Many managers feel reluctant to do this because they think is not part of their job, but it is.
As a manager, you must ensure employee behavior is in line with your organization’s values. And that your employees not only understand the company’s values but also never compromise them.
To do this, you need to have exemplary behavior yourself. Your staff will watch you and following your example.
Unfortunately, we have too many managers who mantra is “Do as I say, not as I do”.
As a key executive, managing behavior is one of the most important things you can do.
This engenders a vibrant culture and it will affect the whole company.
- Be a leader not a follower
All levels of management make sure the people in the organization know of their company’s mission and values. And that is not by placing a poster on the wall.
For your mission and value statements, it is vital that you have a plan to put them in action. You must use this plan, communicate your mission and values repeatedly.
You ensure that your employees will breathe life into these statements. It is your responsibility to be sure we understand these goals and values. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time.
In addition, employees will also pick up on hypocrisy. When leaders post a set of values yet conduct themselves in a contrary manner, they are signing their own death warrant. Because all their words will have no effect.
Become what you should be
Your goal as a manager and leader is to constantly improve your leadership skills. Become a leader who admired as a role model for every employee. Do not hang on to old traditions and misconceptions be open to new ways of doing things, new ideas.
Unfortunately, success has no magic formula. We all can only try to follow the examples of those we admire and those I have mentioned above.
To lead effectively, you must learn to create your own strategy. Which you can base on your own intuition and find new and unusual tactics. You must take chances that may not at first seem to make sense.
Study the greatest leaders, and you see that they may not have more knowledge. But because they are able, when necessary, to drop their preconceived notions and focus intensely on the present moment and all it offers.
So, read and think about what I have said. Use your own thoughts and ideas about how you will become a great leader that you can be.
Leave any comments and I will get back to you.