Management or Leadership…
What is the difference?
The traditional description of a Manager revolved around aspects like forecasting, budgeting, planning and controlling. Managers were taught to manage, not to lead. New supervisors and old school management veterans were taught how to assign work to subordinates, how to evaluate their teammates’ work, how to counsel people on performance problems and how to hire and fire staff members. Everything we were taught about management assumed that the manager would know what to do and was calling the shots.
Fast forward to 2017, a world of new age thinking, advanced technology, the rise of entrepreneurs and, of course, the age of the new-millennium workplace. With new age thinking comes a challenge for the management world – is management still about the original rules of management or is it more ‘’lead by example’’ and ‘’do as I do, not as I say’’.
What is leadership anyway? Is it not the same as management?
If fact, leadership has nothing to do with management at all. Our traditional view of management is task-based and mechanical. In that worldview, we don’t think about issues such as like “How are my teammates holding up? Are they stressed out? Are they feeling good about the future and about the energy on the team? How do they feel about me and what do I represent to them?”
While all of this is appropriately thought provoking and may inspire you to throw out the ‘’carrot and stick’’ method, here are 4 quintessential differences between a leader and a manager:
1. Leaders create a vision, managers create goals.
The manager way: The traditional view of management assumes that a manager’s job is to run an apparatus — perhaps a corporate Finance department or large scale project with multiple team members and stress inducing deadlines. There are clear inputs and outputs and expected results from the engine each manager is responsible for. The manager’s job is to keep the machine running smoothly. In that worldview, the people on the manager’s team are essentially machine parts. They are interchangeable. Once they are hired into a role, their job is to perform that role (to run their piece of the machine) according to goals and standards that preceded them and that will outlast their tenure in the job. The presumption is that the machine is more important and more powerful than anyone who helps to run it.
The leader way: Leaders give their team a clear vision of what the mission is about. From the beginning, to middle, to the end. The leader shows their team what parts of the mission cannot be completed without them. Leaders make it clear that the aspects of the mission are 100% reliant on their members valuable talent and efforts. No team member ever feels like a piece of a machine, they know they are apart of a bigger, meaningful purpose. Team members are left feeling this purpose and their own meaning in the core of their bones and this alone evokes enormous creativity, passion and inspiration. Leaders know this and ensure this becomes a driving force. Leaders allow people to design their own jobs as much as possible and to put their own stamp on their jobs. Why? Because leaders know their entire mission is reliant on the creativity, independence, passion and talent of the people who will ultimately make it all happen. In a sense, leaders make it known that they are at the humble mercy of their team.
2. Leaders are (humble) disrupters. Managers maintain the status quo.
The leader way: Leaders are proud disrupters. Innovation is their mantra. They are uncompfrtable being comfortable and know the importance of creating change and testing every method until there is nothing left to test. They embrace change and know that even if things are working, there could be a better way forward.
The manager way: Managers stick with what works, refining systems, structures and processes to make them better. Managers see what was done before and if it worked, the method stays come hell or high water. Managers typically see evolution as a threat because the manager is comfortable being comfortable and familiarity is his/her best friend.
3. Leaders are starving with curiosity, managers rely on existing, proven skills.
The leader way: Leaders know if they aren’t learning something new every day, they aren’t just standing still, they’re falling behind. They have an intense desire to learn, to seek, to evolve. They consider comfort and the ‘’proven’’ way to be a threat. They remain curious and seek to remain relevant in an ever-changing world of work. Do not confuse this concept with whether they find it hard to adapt to new methods they or the world deliberately adopted, they do find change to be a challenge, they just have the attitude of curiosity, acceptance and openness that helps them navigate the rough terrain of change. They seek out people and information that will expand their thinking.
The manager way: Managers often double down on what made them successful, perfecting existing skills and adopting proven behaviors. Managers work to minimize risk. They seek to avoid or control problems rather than embracing them. Managers work on shorter-term goals, seeking more regular acknowledgment or accolades.
The leader way: The old-fashioned, command-and-control view of management did not require that a manager look in the mirror, but leadership requires that activity of a leader every day. A leader is someone who get outside his or her busy brain to see him- or herself rather than being controlled by his or her emotions, especially fear.
The manager way: Fear is the emotion that makes managers freak out and bring the hammer down. It makes some of them yell at subordinates or put the fear of termination into them so that people skulk around in terror that they’ll make a mistake.