Leaders and Managers: One and the Same, or Different?
Managers and leaders, while both essential to the success of businesses, aren’t created equal. There are some key differences between the two. We’re going to tackle five of them and give you some tips to become more leaderlike, so you can choose which direction you want to steer your career. Pay close attention because some distinctions are more subtle than others.
Five Key Differences Between Managers and Leaders
- Managers focus on goal creation; leaders focus on creating a vision. Leaders can paint a picture of the possibilities and engage their team in a way that allows them to turn the vision into reality. They look beyond what individuals do and understand that high-functioning teams can achieve more through working together versus on their own. A manager’s focus is on setting, measuring, and achieving goals — they aim to control situations in order to reach or exceed their objectives.
- Managers want to control risk; leaders are risk-takers. Leaders possess a willingness to try even if it means they may fail. They understand that the path to success inevitability includes some failure. Managers do what they can to minimize risk by seeking to avoid or control possible issues rather than embracing them.
- Managers are directors; leaders are coaches. Leaders trust that their people have the answers or know how to obtain them. They view their team members as competent and believe in their potential. They refrain from telling them what to do and how to do it. Managers assign tasks and guidance on how to do them.
- Managers approach things from a short-term perspective; leaders approach from a long-term one. Leaders are intentional and follow through on what they say they are going to do; often this is a distant goal. They do not require regular rewards to stay motivated. Managers tend to focus on short-term goals and seek more acknowledgment along the way.
- Managers rely on their current, tried-and-true skills; leaders focus on personal growth. Leaders recognize the importance of consistent learning, the lack of which leads to falling behind. Curiosity and the aim of remaining relevant in today’s ever-evolving workforce are top of mind for them. They’re constantly looking for people and information that will refresh their thinking. Managers tend to focus on what made them successful in the first place and perfect those skills and proven behaviors.
Three Ways to Become More Leaderlike
- Know yourself. An important step you can take on your journey to becoming more of a leader is becoming more aware of your strengths, weaknesses, values, behaviors, and the impact you have on others. A good place to start is with self-reflection, but it’s more than that. It’s also crucial to actively seek feedback from your team and colleagues. If your organization has 360° assessments at its disposal, this is a great tool to utilize.
- Be a person of integrity. As a leader, being seen as trustworthy is key. You want to maintain the highest levels of integrity when interacting with your team and be open and honest. Think of leaders you find easy to trust and assess what makes them that way and what you can learn from them.
- Master the art of tough conversations. This is an inevitable part of being a leader. You may have to communicate unpleasant information with someone or find yourself needing to disagree with a person without offending them. It’s important you’re able to have these difficult conversations while maintaining, and perhaps even building, trust.
It’s time to ask yourself which you are now and which you want to be: leader or manager? Since you have the knowledge and tools, now it’s up to you to decide which direction you want your career to go.