Manager or Leader?

Posted on April 27, 2007. Filed under: Interesting Links, Quotes, Uncategorized |

Ideally, it’s both. Reality proves this is not often the case. Leadership development has been all the rage since the first alpha Neanderthal got eaten and the rest of the clan had no one to turn to. People need leadership. They want to believe. But they can produce without good leadership if they respect their management. The bottom line is garnering the respect of your subordinates. Without it, your effectiveness is seriously undermined. But here’s where the difference between a manager and a leader resides. A leader recognizes that once they have your respect they’re just starting.

Earning respect will increase output, but how can we get higher output while maintaining or boosting morale? The answer is leadership. A leader demonstrates a willingness to hear ideas, to roll up his sleeves when necessary, and the fortitude to make correction when required. However, when leadership is in short supply, management can still get the job done.

In recent decades manager has evolved into the homely stepsister of leader. I personally don’t understand this phenomenon. People will still come to work every day even if they don’t have Vince Lombardi firing them up with the pre-game speech. Obligation and money are powerful motivators. The kids will still need braces and the house will still need a new roof long after Vince retires.

So why is leader the exalted one, when manager tends the shop? The truth is leadership is revered because it is an idea. Leadership can work in the abstract while management has to produce day in and day out. Leadership with no managerial skills can still steer the ship into the rocks. He’ll just look darn good doing it.

The gold standard is when both manager and leader coincide. That’s the guy we all clamor to work for. Who doesn’t want to work for a charismatic motivator that makes you feel like the company will collapse without your contribution?

So if the question is leader or manager? The answer is and always will be both through constant personal development. Washington and Lincoln didn’t reach greatness by being born. They learned it through constant and rigorous self improvement. Anything less and you’re not only shortchanging yourself, but those you manage, and the company that gave you the responsibility.

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
Stephen R. Covey

Edit: I posted this article here on, and it is currently ranked #2! Ok, it’s only out of 12, but everybody loves a good ego boost, right?


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