Managers are just as important as leaders.

As I was growing up, my Mom taught me many lessons as a kid that the average child encountered much later in life. The reason she did this was because the circumstances I was exposed to as a child was not the norm. It was her way of making me prepared for situations that may arise. What I have come to realize is that I have been doing things for years, which naturally makes me more skilled at it. My screw ups, in these areas, happened years ago. The biggest lesson I learned:

The choice you make today will usually affect you tomorrow.

I learned this the hard way. Of course we don’t have crystal balls to our lives but there are times when we can predict the outcome of some key decisions we make. This leads me to what I want to talk about today; the difference between leaders and managers. What are the differences between leaders and managers?

Leaders vs. Managers
  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.
  • The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

Anyone majoring in a business related field has probably seen this list or something similar. Many times, the student sees this list after taking a test, which determines the category the student falls in. I always, without fail, fall into the leadership categories. In my classes, most students hated when they fell in the manager category, as if it was inferior. In my opinion, they are equally important and necessary.

Having manager traits isn’t the kiss of death…

I am fortunate that I can fulfill both leadership and management roles in business (depending on the type of business of course). My Mom, who was an entrepreneur, taught many of my leadership traits to me. She did a good job. People trust me because I understand the importance of earning it. I look at long range perspectives, with my eye on the horizon because many times I am going to do something that is innovative because I am my own person which requires me to give some thought to how what I do today will affect me tomorrow. It all comes together. However, there are times when I do not want to lead because my strength (in that area) would be managing. Usually what happens in these cases is that I have my own division or set of responsibilities where I lead in my area, but manage things as a whole. That is a good balance for me if I am not leading.

So my question is…where do you fit in?

Being honest on which category fits your personality will save you a lot of frustration in the future. A leader cannot lead without an effective manager to carry out the plans and hold things together. Without the foundation of a manager, a leader is very crippled unless the person can do both skill sets effectively. Since they tend to clash and are opposites of each other, a person usually finds they have some leadership traits but generally fall in the manager category.

Unless you are a follower, a topic I will save for another day.