For many people a manager should be a leader and for someone that is good at providing direction then most people assume they should be moved into a managerial position.
The question has to be asked: is a manager the same as a leader? Do they have the same characteristics?
Don’t assume that the two concepts are exactly the same. Not everyone who is a good leader can be a manager and a lot of the time managers aren’t exactly the people to have at the forefront of your business.
So, are leadership and management the same thing?
Defining A ‘Leader’
First we need to define what a leader actually is.
In a business environment leadership is shown by being innovative and looking at the ‘big picture’. A fairly unique set of qualities are needed to be a true leader. Driving change, adapting to variations in the market and working to inspire employees to buy into the company vision are all aspects needed to be a great leader.
Look at Winston Churchill for instance. A leader who motivated an entire country however would you refer to him as a great manager?
Is A ‘Manager’ Different?
Where a leader motivates and inspires, a manager is there to handle all the day to day processes required to make a business function.
Budgeting, setting targets, recruiting staff and measuring performance are all traits of a good manager. It is this attention to the specific details and ability to problem solve on a daily basis that set them apart from what we would define as a leader.
A manager is someone who operates the running of a business and has ‘subordinates’ working under them while a leader has people who follow their vision. Churchill provided the motivation however it was the bureaucrats that bought into his idea that made it work.
Can The Two Co-Exist?
Now that we have separated these distinct concepts is it possible for the two to exist?
Of course it is and in many businesses the two need to exist in order for the company to operate in a successful way.
For example a leader is someone who will set out the entire vision for the project – overall objectives and what the project is set out to achieve – while a manager will be tasked with carrying out and overseeing the work that contributes to these results being met.
If a leader sets the direction for customers of a business to have a better experience when raising a complaint for example then a manager will be needed to plan the detail of how this will happen in practice. Setting targets for complaints to be addressed in a specific time, organising training to ensure that employees have the right skills and hiring staff to cope with demand are all managerial traits that a leader will not necessarily be directly involved in.
There is an overlap of qualities between a true leader and an effective manager however for a business to operate to the best of its ability then the two need to co-exist.
As Warren Bennis stated in his still relevant 1989 book – ‘On Becoming a Leader’ – “The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.”
It’s up to you to define what one you will be.