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Leaders VS Managers

Leaders VS Managers

Recently I was asked by a fellow professional what is the difference between a leader and a manager. I thought long and hard about it, and came to several realizations. Now keep in mind my point of reference for this is based on my 12+ years in the military, which includes during war time, and my 15+ years amongst the professional ranks.

For one you can be a manager but not manage anyone. There are allot of positions out there that are titled manager or management that do not have direct people managing requirements. While the only way to be a leader or be in a leadership role is to lead people. Leaders are born, managers are created.

In addition anyone can be a manager, only a select few can be leaders. A manager(if they are managing people) can have influence over people because of their title without ever having earned that influence, respect or trust. A leader, will not only have that influence because of their title, but they will have earned it through deeds, they will be respected because they earned it, and they will be trusted by the people who work for them because they have proven they are trustworthy. They will have a way about them, that demands respect. This is something that cannot be made, or learned you either have it or you do not. Sometimes it take awhile before it shines through, but if you have this elusive ability sooner or later it will be clear, you are a leader.

A true leader knows how to utilize all 3 leadership styles, authoritarian, participative and delegative. They will know when and how to use them. The will make those around them better. The will also live by the simple rule of “taking care of others, takes care of yourself”. Which means for the purpose of leaders very simply, if you truly take care of your workers, they will want to reciprocate and take care of you. The only true way for a worker to take care of their leader, is to do their jobs in an outstanding manner. Which in turns makes the leader look good. A true leader will understand everyone makes mistakes, and the key is not repeating the same mistake over and over again. A great leader does not need to be an expert at anything other than leading to get a job done, of course it does help if you have the technical skills, or knowledge.

A manager will usually be an expert in a process or procedure or skill. Maybe even a great programmer or recruiter. However being a great programmer or recruiter does not make you a great manager or leader.

Earlier I made the statement ” leaders are born, managers are created.” This is very true. However there are those rare occasions, when you get the best of both worlds. When you get a managers, who is a leader. What you have then is the best of the best, the ultimate managing leader.

When you do get a person who is not only a technical expert, but knows how to lead, you should enjoy it, because they are rare, and with leaders like that you can work wonders, achieve great success, and perhaps, if you are lucky, and already have a the ability to lead in you, you can learn to be the best of the best, the Managing Leader.