The most important lesson I’ve learned is the difference between a leader and a manager – not all managers are leaders, and not all leaders are managers. Adopting short-term goals and systems is one thing; inspiring people to a bigger plan is entirely different. I would say that the most successful people do both.
In other words, the mark of a true leader knows when to lead and when to manage.
So, what is the distinction between leadership and management? Here are the eight most significant differences between being a leader and being a manager, so you can start using your best skills in your work.
Influence VS Power
Managers, for the most part, have titles that confer authority. However, if you’ve ever worked for a boss obsessed with results, you know what I’m talking about following the rules and controlling outcomes. You know there’s a big difference between power and influencing people. Not all managers can motivate and influence others, which is an essential hallmark of leadership.
On the other side, some of my company’s most inspiring people include junior developers who come to work every day excited about finding solutions that help our clients. They don’t have a “manager” in their name, but their great ideas and enthusiasm motivate the rest of us to keep our company’s long-term vision in mind, making them incredible leaders.
Having followers versus having subordinates
The central part of a manager’s job is to ensure that company policies and procedures are followed. While this is an important role, it does not automatically create a leader. Leadership is more about building trust and respect and, as a result, being perceived as someone worth following.
One sure way to decide if you are a leader is to count the number of people who come to you for advice (excluding your direct reports).
I worked for a software company before starting my own company. One of my coworkers constantly had Coworkers come up to him and ask him questions. He wasn’t a manager, but his work ethic and integrity were admirable. They made people see him as a leader.
Instead of focusing on the present, consider the future
I remember the fear I experienced as a child when my parents told me to clean my (reputedly very dirty) room. The only thing that is going me to keep the room tidy is the end-of-week cash payment (about $1)
As I got older, I started thinking a little more judiciously. I intended to put money down for a new bike, but I knew I would need to make a lot more than $1 a week for that to happen. So, I asked my parents to work harder, and after months of hard work doing laundry and dishes, I got home my shiny red bike.
I didn’t know it at present, but I thought as a leader. Managers manage activities to cross them off a to-do list, but leaders are motivated to complete tasks because they can see the big picture. While managers tend to focus on current tasks (cleaning the room to avoid trouble), leaders see the future.
Vision of Opportunity for Growth VS Vision of Failure
Since managers tend to obsess over-rules and results, failure tends to become blacker and whiter for them. Being politically aware can be a positive thing, but an overemphasis on right and wrong means that one “bad” move can ruin morale and motivate your team.
More far-sighted leaders may see an opportunity in perceived failures. Losing a significant client or receiving negative feedback from a team member is not a step in the wrong direction but a chance to reevaluate systems and develop creative solutions.
Empowerment vs. Efficiency
After all, managers are more focused on improving efficiency. They are looking for ways to save money and time. On the other side, leaders are willing to invest time in their employees’ development.
My basketball coach didn’t have to remain after practice for an hour to assist me in hitting my free throws, but his inefficient approach was more effective in the long run. I got more points as the season progressed because he took the time to invest in me.
The same principle applies in any organization: when we make time as leaders, we can stop thinking we have to develop our team members to delegate more significant and more critical tasks in the future.
Leadership may not always seem easy or practical, but a strategic vision (and a willingness to execute it, even if it wastes time) will generate tremendous success and motivation. It is a victory for everyone.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud platform where their QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools are hosted in an efficient SSO environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.