What's the difference between managers and leaders - and can people be both?
"Management, leadership - and knowing the difference!
I'm sure that there must be a hundred thousand books written on this subject, many of which will disagree with each other.
It seems to me that we spend a lot of energy trying to understand leadership and management, because many people have observed that both success and failure tend to 'start from the top'.
Yet for all the apparent complexity, I think that the principles are actually quite simple.. Here's my view.
People capable of leading others come in all shapes and sizes and many personality types! They tend to have some common characteristics -
- the ability to generate a feeling of trust with most people, swiftly
- the ability to communicate a vision and to describe a path that people can identify with
- the ability to identify their own weaknesses and surround themselves with people who 'fill their gaps'.
At one extreme they tend toward being sociopaths who don't mind who gets damaged on the way through, but will achieve whatever they set out to do. At the other, they exhibit great empathy and caring - and the ability to traverse difficult paths based on the energy they generate in others.
Managers are also many and varied, but I think are frequently ill-equipped to do the work they have taken on. In many cases they have taken a management role because it's the next logical step 'up the ladder' - not because they have the skills it takes to do their job well.
This is a fault with our conventional hierarchy that says more pay and more power come with a higher rank and higher rank means entering the management tier. We can't understand paying someone more in a more operational tier because they are great at what they do - so we promote them to something they frequently do less well so that we can 'reward' them!
Good managers inevitably have the following characteristics -
- a good sense of themselves and a high awareness of others - and the impact they have on them
- good influencing skills, based on their ability to appreciate many different perspectives
- an ability to get the best out of people by putting them in a position to achieve great things, whatever they're doing
- an ability to appreciate the 'points of friction' within an organisation and to organise people and implement systems that remove the friction and create good harmonic 'balance'
- great communication skills
- the ability to accept the responsibility they have been given and to use their authority sensitively and in the interests of the people they care for (manage)
- an appreciation that the whole is never better than the sum of the parts, but that the parts are all people with individual needs, skills and perspectives.
Can people be both?
Yes, of course they can. However, the selflessness of good managers often means that they aren't well suited to leadership. Conversely, the strong ego and sense of self required to lead can mean that leaders ride rough-shod over people they see as 'insignificant' - which makes them really bad managers.
I don't think there's a lot of rhyme or reason in whether the two end up combined in the same person. Because both good managers and great leaders are all too rare.
I do, however, think that it is only exceptional people who can claim to be both!
I employ many people across Australia and have a business that has been going for many years .
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To get these views for free Australia needs to get involved .