“I need a manager! I’m holding out for a manager…”

Are you a Leader or are you a Manager?

Contrary to popular belief, the world needs managers. In fact, I would argue that we need them now more than ever. It seems that we have vilified managers, instead preferring the term “leader.” Comparisons are often made between manager and leader, with “leader” carrying more weight than “manager”. As though in the world of work achieving the status of a manager is like taking silver, while gold is reserved for those who can be called a leader.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it is subjective. One key characteristic of leadership is that it does not come with a title. You can be a leader without being in a position of authority – we all know this, but the flip is also true: you can also be a manager without being a leader – and this is not a bad thing either. The fact is, I have seen my fair share of people in authority (so-called leaders), fail because they made their focus “leading” and didn’t worry enough about managing.

“What ‘cha talkin’ ‘bout, Jim?”

Colin Powell said, “you know you are a good leader when people follow you out of curiosity.” That is a great way to describe leadership. The question is, do those who are following you have the skills of the people you want on your team? If you are coaching an NBA team, a High School Basketball team may follow you without question, but are they the team you want? Management makes the tough decisions of who can and who cannot follow you. A good manager reviews the team that he or she has and does everything possible to get the training and tools needed for success. Managers reward those who are getting the job done and deal with those who aren’t. Often, in the name of leadership, people shirk their management responsibilities. For example, letting those who aren’t cutting it hang on too long, or they apply equal rewards across the board, thus diluting the results for those who truly earned them.

Back to our Colin Powell quote, people want leadership, but they want to be a part of a well-managed organization as well – because once their curiosity is met, they will not likely stick around for a sinking ship – no matter how good of a leader you are.

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