A Manager or a Leader?

“Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.” ― Kathy Austin

The occupant of an elevated position has often been mistaken as a leader in many cases. In corporate settings for instance, positions like General Manager are truly meant to be leadership positions but that does not automatically make the person on the seat a leader. Elevated positions are only meant to be an added platform where leadership qualities are to be better expressed.

What this invariably means is that the position does not define who the leader is, but rather the leader is known by what he/she does. Leadership is an action word, not a noun that depicts position or status. You can occupy the zenith position but still lack the basic traits of leadership. Many people occupying positions are merely managers, not leaders.

The irony in many cases is that in the midst of the crowd are people who are true leaders while at the fore where more is required, we have less of leaders. It is easy and sometimes impulsive to fall for the routine of a position. Many positional routines only amount to managing people not leading them. In my last post, “Character versus Charisma” I pointed out that leadership is mainly about influence. Leadership is not about dictating to or taking control over others. Kenneth Blanchard said that the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.

Only a Manager

“Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”  

Tom Peters

The corporate world is filled with managers who are charged with the responsibility of managing of assets and in many cases people. Management positions are meant to be a platform to express leadership but that often is not the case. In the core of managing is maintaining the flow of events, sticking to the forms and trends that have been proven successful. This is one reason why I think managers always have problem with daring and fearless employees.

A manager will never want the status quo to be challenged, they are classically adamant to change. It is not really their fault, it is more because the corporate and business world have been built to demand immediate results. This is why managers do not have time to grow people but more interested in process. But is that the bigger picture?

Employees are what managers have, they never create fans and loyalists. I once worked for a firm where it was always pressure from here or there anytime we have our sales meeting on Monday mornings. There is always tension in the voice, tone and even the countenance of my manager. Because it was a sales role, the sales manager was expected to report large sales figures weekly, but we were not bringing in the cheques. Because my boss was a manager, he could only pass across to us the pressure that he was receiving from top management. He and other top managers only rely on existing methods and status quo which was obviously not working at the moment.

The working environment became hostile and tensed within days. Within a month, almost half of my colleagues were relieved of their jobs, and another set followed in two weeks. The justification was that the team had always made sales with the same resources, and when we are not selling, it must be the people. He is only a manager, and the status quo must be maintained. Remember he is focused on immediate results, he just have to let the people go instead of thinking of a new way to make sales.

There is more than Managing

Managers do great works, but great managers go way beyond the usual expectations. To excel and be a great manager, then you have to do more. You have to become a leader, not just a manager. You have to be able to motivate and influence your workforce to achieve more. The focus here is on the people, not just about immediate results. Leaders are concerned about the people they manage and seek ways to improve them.

“The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision.”

Ken Blanchard 

More can be get done if managers can exhibit more leadership qualities. Leadership is about visions, not just goals or objectives, about the people not just systems, focuses on causing a positive and lasting change not just status quo. This is not just about a position, it is consciously developing characters and virtues of a leader. It is about becoming influential by having a genuine interest in the development and growth of others.

Leadership is working with goals and vision; management is working with objectives. —Russel Honore

Leadership is not a mantle that falls on anybody, it is a level of growth that you build yourself into. I have stressed it in my last post that character is more important than charisma, you need to develop it. Don’t fall for the myth that leaders are born, they are made in the place of intentional brewing of positive characters. Leaders are great communicators, responsible, hardworking, empathetic, disciplined, trustworthy, truthful, passionate, and transparent.

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” — Brian Tracy

The bottom line is that great leaders possess high amount of emotional and intelligence quotient. They are well aware of themselves and thus can easily collaborate and inspire others to do more. A position is not needed to be a leader, you can effectively lead from within the crowd. In your personal life, you should choose to be a leader and not a manager. Seek ways to be better not just maintaining the usual. Always push for long term gain, not immediate results, leaders think long-term. Leadership pays all more, we need more of such responsibility takers. You’re a leader in the making? Then this is a channel you should subscribe to. The world will be better with more leaders like you and I.

“Management works in the system; leadership works on the system.” — Stephen Covey 

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” 
— Peter Drucker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s