Manager or Leader? Four Distinctions To Show Where You Stand

There’s a difference between those who manage people and those who lead. Our human tendency usually swings towards managing rather than leading—it comes more naturally. But leadership is an important skill that generates different results than managing. And with effort and practice, it’s possible to grow leadership skills.

Managers Focus on Performance, Leaders Focus on Personal Growth

A manager’s focus tends to be on employee performance and its relationship to the bottom line. They want the employee to produce better outcomes, which is important. Leaders go a step further and provide employees with the training and coaching they need to improve their skills and productivity. It takes both, but if your people are lacking leadership then they may feel like a cog in the wheel rather than a team member. After a conversation with a leader, an employee is motivated to grow and knows the boss is behind them in the process. Employees trust people who are willing to help when they need it most and are willing to provide them with what they need to work their best.

Managers Focus on Tasks, Leaders Focus on Inventive Thinking
Those who fit the manager profile typically focus primarily on getting tasks completed. Managers tend to view a company as a machine to keep running smoothly. They run it well, but they don’t often reach beyond to think about what’s coming next. A leader, on the other hand, is always looking ahead, keeping an eye on new industry developments and how to adapt. They’re ready to try things that haven’t been done before if they believe it will help the company grow more efficiently. They’re constantly looking for ways to improve what’s already being done and encourage employees to do the same. Creative thinking at every level of the business is encouraged and rewarded.

Mangers See Short-Term, Leaders See Long-Term
Managers tend to focus more on short-term objectives, with their thoughts training on getting tasks accomplished in the shorter term. They focus on the needs of the day. The longer-term goals take a back seat to accomplishing what’s necessary to make today’s to-do list happen. A leader’s view stretches out farther, to plan for and accomplish long-term goals. When planning ahead, they make decisions today based on goals that are sometimes years away.

Successful organizations need traits of both leaders and managers. But while managing comes easier to most people, leadership brings its own unique rewards.
Published on August 6th, 2015 in Blog

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