Recently, on Twitter, I got into a disagreement with someone on the difference between the role of a manager and the role of a leader. Those who know me, know that I believe disagreement sharpens people, ideas and organizations. Agreeable disagreement causes us to examine our beliefs and it challenges us to make sure that we’re practicing what we preach.
I believe that we manage things (processes, procedures and outcomes) and we lead people (employees, customers and others).
Here are examples of differences that I’ve identified (I’d love to hear yours in the comment section below):
A manager focuses on process and procedure, a leader focuses on people.
A manager administrates. A leader envisions.
A manager maintains. A leader develops.
A manager measures projections. A leader projects measures.
A manager ensures that things are done right. A leader ensures that the right things are being done.
A manager ensures that rules are followed (such as laws, regulations and policy). A leader empowers and inspires innovation.
A manager deals in detail. A leader in possibility.
A manager magnifies corporate policies, processes and procedures. A leader magnifies the person, their capabilities and their purpose.
A manager deals in the probable. A leader deals in the possible.
Managers are, by design, implementers of rules, organizers of details, and they ensure compliance. Leaders are challengers of rules, casters of vision and they define purpose.
While it may seem that the manager and the leader cannot coexist with one another, it is imperative that they do.
Today, organizational cultures seem in constant flux between authoritarian environments (led by managers), and laissez faire environments (managed by leaders). Both cultures are unbalanced, destructive and are unsustainable.
The late, Zig Ziglar wrote that “the leader and the manager must communicate effectively and regularly so that all the people understand the support each supplies to the other.”
Sustainable high-performance cultures are purpose-driven. Leaders lead and managers manage. Both are in agreement and are bound by a common (often written) corporate code. Their symbiotic relationship serves both employees and organizations, well.