The difference between a leader and a manager is a topic this is very much debated within organizations. “Not all managers are leaders; but most leaders can manage” is a saying that you might hear people say. However, how true is this? This article will take a look at the difference between the two and hopefully give some insight to everyone who is in management or aspiring to be on a Management Team one day.
A leader is someone who has the ability to take a team of people and drive them to reach their goals. They will inspire their teams to execute the vision of the organization through motivation, encouragement and allowing them to believe in themselves. A leader reminds the team of the shared vision and the goals that need to be met, works hand in hand with the staff in order to identify the strengths of the team in order to capitalize on them to make a sustainable difference to the working environment. This allows the staff to want to do better and work more efficiently.
Staff tend to sing praises of their managers who lead by example. Someone who has an open door policy, that does not dictate to the team rather is open to communication and ideas that the staff may present. A good leader is someone who can stand behind his/her team when they hit turbulent times but find solutions to move a despondent team to success by any means possible. People management skills are imperative when you are a leader because you need to know your team, know when someone needs a little extra attention or a push in the right direction. You need to know the sort of incentives that each member of the team likes, whether it is recognition, monetary remuneration or a simple thank you every now and then. Staff members are all different which in turn bring a different dynamic to the team. A good leader understands that people bring different dynamics to the team and how to deal with them. There is a saying that goes: leaders are not made they are born. I beg to differ as I feel that anyone with the drive and internal motivation to lead can lead. There are a few check boxes that need to be ticked before you can become a self-made leader but I know this is possible.
A manager is someone who is there to make sure that the staff is doing what they are supposed to do. They do not have insight into each individual in the team, and he/she takes a blanket approach to management and seeks results based on the objectives of the job. Most people working under managers tend to not really care about their jobs. They get in, do what they have to do and get out. This kind of environment makes people very frustrated and very despondent to any kind of drive or motivation that the manager will propose as they feel that is not really sincere. The most popular saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” is very true. Once there is a disconnect between the leader and his or her pack, there will be difficulty in communications and this will affect productivity. There was an article recently that was written about organizations that waste money trying to solve the wrong problems, it mentioned that the root cause of most departmental issues start with staff frustrations however due to the “closed door policy” staff cannot openly discuss in honesty how they feel to their superiors. They will always sugar coat the truth so that they do not come across as negative or unhappy as this will cause a manager to address the wrong issue and at times this has huge monetary implications on the business, meanwhile the real problem goes unresolved.
I guess this is the differentiation between a manager and a leader; a leader would attack the problem at the root and a manager would address the sugar coated problem because of lack of insight and real interest in his/her staff members.