A decade ago, people aspired to be promoted to manager or reach a specific management level within their company. There now appears to be a preference in being called a “leader,” implying that a leader is superior in some fashion to the role of a manager. Instead of referring to the top echelon as senior management, the trend is to call that team “senior leadership.” The truth? By definition a manager and a leader serve two different roles; therefore, comparing the position of manager and leader is like comparing apples to oranges.
Different Needs, Different Roles
Managers ensure they and their reports carry out the company’s mission, ensure compliance with systems and processes, accept and complete assigned tasks by due dates, and keep an eye on the bottom line. Managers are asked to focus on the short-term view. On the other hand, the role of organizational leaders is to create vision and mission, focus on influencing change in people and processes, and challenge the status quo for the sake of improving the company. Leaders are assigned to look toward the horizon, design a vision, and determine how to move the company toward that future.
Both positions, with their unique set of responsibilities, should be valued in their own right for what they contribute toward the health and growth of the company. The role of manager should be recognized and celebrated for its value, even if it doesn’t come with the responsibilities or title of leader. In smaller companies, sometimes the roles are blurred and embodied in one position or person. We should recognize that everyone wins when managers leverage their leadership skills, leaders appreciate the value of managing skills, and they all work together for the betterment of their employees, customers, suppliers, and community.
Title Assigned, Title Earned
The reality is that not everyone can be crowned with the title of manager, but anyone can be knighted with the title of leader. Why? Because in truth, leadership has never really been associated with a position but rather a way of being. True leaders are never assigned their position but earn the title by what they’re able to accomplish through influence. Everyone has the ability to influence. Your influence will be a direct result of how your present yourself, what you think, what you say, and what you do. The result will be how you affect change in people, processes, and systems. The big question everyone should be asking themselves: Have I prepared myself to lead well?
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.