Whilst it’s true that someone could actually be both an excellent manager and an inspiring leader, flitting between the two depending on the situation, there are certain traits that set the two roles apart.
Managers Set Goals; Leaders Shape Visions
Managers are there to ensure that a team is working effectively and efficiently. They are responsible for understanding what needs to be accomplished and ensuring that this is communicated to the team. They will go to great pains to ensure that goals and performance is carefully monitored. And that the overall objectives for individuals, the team and the company are met.
Leaders on the other hand, are very much about selling new ideas to the team. Rather than set goals they will encourage people to be creative; to think for themselves and carve and seek out new opportunities for the business.
Managers Control Risks; Leaders Take Risks
A Manager’s aim is to reduce or minimise risk for the business. And should they need to take risks, they are usually carefully calculated, drawing from past data to ensure that the company is not unduly exposed.
Leaders on the other hand, try new things. Often they will break the rules as the navigate uncharted territory for the company. They often think about the long-term bigger picture and are at their weakest when bogged down in detail.
Managers Fear Change; Leaders Hate Repetition
Good Managers are often process driven. Every area of the business will have a carefully tried-and-test well thought out workflow. Managers will be adept at seeing problems in the process and will have a plan to resolve it before it escalates.
Leaders on the other hand, challenge. They will take a process, whether it’s broken or not and try to figure out, how to make it better. They will seek areas for improvement and will continuously question those around them.
Managers Instruct; Leaders Encourage
Managers tend to ‘tell’ others what needs to be done, giving approval and feedback to their employees when things go right, or wrong. They establish the rules in which their employees work, assigning duties as they go. They rely heavily on control and most decisions are made in a logical way, deciding on what makes most ‘sense’ for the business.
Leaders on the other hand, encourage those around them to think for themselves and try new things. They motivate individuals and actively encourage new ideas. For them mistakes are all part of the learning journey. They inspire trust in others, and often go by gut instinct alone.
Whether you consider yourself a Manager, a Leader, or even a bit of both; there is almost certainly place for both in any business. The best businesses in the world may have an inspiring Leader at the helm. But, you can bet on there being a talented Manager at the helm.
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