Are you a manager or a leader? Is there a distinction, or are the terms one and the same? Why does it matter?
The distinction is important because employees’ impressions of their administrators can spark or sink both parties’ careers. It’s therefore important to recognize the conspicuous and more nuanced differences and similarities between managers and leaders.
The definitions are far from straightforward, and they are the subject of much debate. If you have categorized yourself as one vs. the other, you are riding on the impression you have of yourself, which ultimately determines how you lead people.
Any complex comparison reveals a definite overlap between managers and leaders. Both have people to oversee. Though some common ground exists, there are numerous dissimilarities.
Mindset is the primary distinction, business executive and philanthropist Vineet Nayar states in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, “Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders.” The way you tackle administration helps decide whether you manage or lead. Do you focus on yourself (the manager’s focus) or on others (the hallmark of a leader)?
Differences in Purpose
The purpose behind your actions defines your legacy. An old adage applies:
Other views are more specific:
Nayar prefers the following distinctions:
Alan Murray, author of The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management (HarperBusiness, 2010), offers another view:
Differences in Focus
Focus – influence focus include your qualifications, experience, fears, opinions and priorities – describes areas of concern and attention:
Differences in Authority
Authority – how you oversee, direct and assess completion of staff activities radically affects your direct reports:
Nayar offers an interesting observation:
Differences in Behavior
Everyone notices your behavior, and it takes only a few actions to reveal your character traits and what kind of support they’ll receive:
The Proper Blend
Is one administrative model superior to the other? Should you adopt a purely managerial or leadership model?
Murray asserts that the two models go hand in hand, so trying to separate them is detrimental. You must blend the two approaches to create an optimal administrative strategy. One approach, on its own, is insufficient for success.
Today’s world of commerce presents greater pressures and shorter deadlines than ever before. There is little, if any, slack for workers to step back and catch their breath. Such conditions require more of the manager model, with an administrator who takes the reins and keep everyone on track.
Conversely, Murray points out, we face a new economy, where workers have developed perspectives that differ greatly from those of previous generations. Managers must therefore have the right leadership skills and know how to develop people.
A widely accepted management framework, based on Henri Fayol’s early 20th-century model, calls for four administrative functions:
Planning has short- and long-term aspects. Short-term planning accounts for the process, manpower and timing needed to meet organizational objectives (what effective managers do). Long-term planning accounts for the vision and strategy needed to grow the company and enhance its purpose (what successful leaders do).
Organizing utilizes management skills to plan projects, provide resources and initiate processes.
Leading comprises four additional building blocks:
Each component is driven by a leader’s interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
Applying the Blend
Administrators who cling to a sole managerial or leadership approach handicap their organizations.
If you’re too management oriented, you’ll have difficulty building trust. People will see that your priority is to get work done, not to benefit them. Your personal goals will seem to override anyone else’s. You’ll be regarded as uncaring or disinterested—unworthy of being followed.
If you’re too leadership oriented, you won’t be able to maintain order. Tasks will be performed incorrectly or late, and productivity will plummet. Crises will overtake your people, who lack guidance on immediate issues. Your boss will assume you’re unable to handle the job, and you’ll lose your staff’s respect.
Administrators who work toward achieving both managerial and leadership capabilities excel in the workplace. In this ideal workplace, nothing can stop the team from achieving success.
Evaluate your leadership and management skills. Have you successfully blended both arenas? Can you shore up shortcomings in either area?
Call upon a, trainer or management coach like myself to help you spot the areas that require enhancement. Your organization will benefit greatly—and so will you.
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Call me today (949) 721-5732 to schedule a 30 minutes consultation.