The Manager as a Leader

Is there is difference between Manager and Leader? This is an often asked question and there continues to exist a great deal of confusion. Senior Strategic Partner, Charles Parnell, offers some wisdom on this topic in this week’s Power Idea. We know you will benefit from his insights to this important question.

There continues to be meaningful discourse between people regarding the difference between a manager and a leader. They are not the same but go hand in hand. They are necessarily linked and complimentary. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and create the environment to foster motivation in others. In the new economy, this distinction has become blurred. Managers not only have to assign tasks, but also define the purpose for the tasks. They must not only organize workers, but must also nurture their skills, develop their talents and inspire results. In this new economy, we have the knowledge worker -person with technical and non-technical knowledge. Therefore, the task is not to manage these people, but to lead them.

Managers are sometimes leaders in some situations because leadership is situational. They have to respond appropriately to the needs of the situation at hand and to the needs of the those involved. This means developing a keen insight into the changes that occur in the marketplace and industry they do business in. Identifying these needs will help people develop the competencies to meet them and help organizations attain them as well.

Some of the qualities that describe leaders are:

  • goal-directed
  • positive
  • determined and emphatic
  • inspirational
  • keen focus on people development
  • focus on the long range goals
  • focus on trust
  • focus on the future
  • challenging the status quo

Managers can exhibit these characteristics as well, but typically not to the extent that leaders do.

Managers continually ask themselves what they can do improve their effectiveness as a leader. First and foremost, they should identify those qualities that describe an “ideal” leader, then focus on those skills which they want to develop. Be specific, and set goals and plans that will insure the achievement of their goals. Develop an Action Plan to help in this process.

Remember; Leaders are not born, they are developed.

Organizations need both managers and leaders to compete in the knowledge-based interconnected global marketplace.