Manager or Leader: Which One Are You?

Being a manager and being a leader are two entirely different things. While great leaders can be managers, not all managers are great leaders. I bet you’ve encountered managers who were lacking in the leadership skills department, and I hope you’ve experienced some great leaders in your career, as well. Let’s look at how they are different.

How Managers Operate

Think of the word “manage.” What does it imply? Of course, you might think of someone in business who is supposed to take care of daily operations of some sort. But the secondary definition is “to succeed in surviving or in attaining one’s aims.” Now let’s see what happens when someone in charge is merely there to “survive” or “attain one’s aims.”

If someone is simply a manager, they may lack charisma. Many managers lead with an authoritarian style. They see their employees as their subordinates and expect that they will fulfill their roles as assigned. They have been granted authority by the company and are paid to get things done, often on short deadlines and for little money. For this reason, it makes sense that this demeanor and these expectations are passed down to their employees.

This is not to say that all managers are cold — not at all. But a manager lacking leadership skills likely doesn’t rule with warmth and inspiration. Managers, in the purest sense, often prefer stability and resist change. Their focus is on the work, not the people. Managers can be reactive and often less forward-thinking than leaders. You may find that it’s most important to a manager to be right, instead of always doing what is right.

How Leaders Operate

Leaders don’t typically view their employees as subordinates, more so as followers. They don’t rule with iron fists nor stick to rigid guidelines. They lead their employees through motivation, inspiration and team spirit. The team mentality and sense of belonging employees receive through working for a true leader is motivating and creates a strong, genuine work ethic and belief that by following them, they are making a difference. Unlike the managers mentioned above, leaders are focused on doing what is right, not simply being right. In fact, true leaders are OK with being questioned, not threatened, and see it as an opportunity for growth.

True leaders are good with people. They are charismatic and relatable, often good listeners and maintain open-door policies. Approachable leaders can instill a sense of ownership in their followers when they create a strong belief in the common mission. And while leaders are focused on tasks and results, they realize that the way to achieving those goals is through their people. They have a broader vision, not just a set of company-driven goals to meet, and are typically very proactive.

How Do You Operate?

So are you one or the other, or do you think you have a balance of each? Which do you imagine is more preferable to employees? I can tell you that most employees long to be inspired and led, versus being ordered around to meet goals. Think about it: Inspiration leads to internal motivation. Motivating your people to do their best is much more effective than pacing by their cube hourly to ensure they are meeting the determined quota of sales calls a day.

If you lean toward the manager style but would like to learn more about strengthening your leadership skills, contact The Marlo Companies. Our array of human resources trainings and services, as well as our True Colors Personality Indicator assessment and workshops can help you grow as a supervisor and a person. Contact us today.

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