The word “leader” is often used indiscriminately. Some managers are also leaders; some leaders are also managers. What’s the difference?
A manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. A leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate people who work or follow them, and this sets the tone for most other aspects of what they do. Managers have subordinates; leaders have followers.
The best supervisors and executives are both managers and leaders. They realize that you cannot buy hearts, especially when a difficult path needs to be followed, so they act as leaders too. Here are other common attributes:
|Focuses on systems and structure||Focuses on people|
|Relies on control||Inspires trust|
|Imitates; is a copy||Originates; is inventive|
|Has a short-range view||Has a long-range perspective|
|Asks how and when||Asks what and why|
|Has their eye on the bottom line||Has their eye on the horizon|
|Accepts the status quo||Challenges the status quo|
|Is a classic “good soldier”||Is his or her own person|
|Does things right||Does the right thing.|
Managers can become better leaders by focusing on people. A great first step is working to understand the different needs that motivate people, and recognizing that the same rewards don’t motivate everyone in the same way. This can be done by listening carefully to others to learn what motivates them. Another key to people-focused leadership is to make sure you communicate clearly so they understand how their work contributes to a larger goal.
Leaders create productive teams that draw the best from people. They effectively coach teams in collaboration, consensus building, and conflict resolution. Those who are being “managed” are really looking for a leader they trust and want to follow: someone they know is working for the greater good – for them and for the organization.