We have all known individuals who are hard workers and get promoted to managerial positions only to fail. Most of them have had no training in supervising others, and they had only a limited idea of what they need to do. Laurence Peter’s book, “The Peter Principle,” written in 1969, argued that people are promoted until they rise to their “level of incompetence”.
While new managers benefit from training in the basics of supervising, budgeting, and similar tasks, effective managers intuitively know that there is another step they need to take. They want to not only be an effective manager, but they also want to become a leader. There is a difference.
The terms leadership and management tend to be used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings on a practical basis. Leadership requires traits that extend beyond daily management duties. Both leaders and managers have to utilize the resources at their disposal, but authentic leadership requires more.
For example, managers may or may not be described as “inspiring” by the people working under them, but a leader has a team that wants to follow and share in the future.
Thinking of it another way, you may have known someone who everyone turned to for information and advice even though the person was not a manager. He or she was a natural leader.
So that is why a person who is given the title of manager will likely have to work at acquiring a leader’s skills. This not only takes time — leaders frequently evolve as they gain more experience in the workplace — but it also takes thoughtful effort.
While managers can still be useful in the way they push projects forward and get things done, striving to do more and become the go-to person who can motivate workers is the gold standard that leaders work to achieve.
Leaders are innovators and sometimes challenge the status quo. Those who are not leaders tend to like working within existing structures where they feel comfortable.
As P.G. Northouse writes in “Leadership: Theory and Practice,” a manager is tasked with “planning, organizing, staffing and controlling.” They remain task-focused and “provide order and consistency to organizations” while not engaging their workers in any discussions regarding how things could change or be done better.
That does not mean that leaders disregard rules, but they are more flexible in the way they operate and in their expectations of others. They tend to be personable with a high level of critical thinking skills.
The world needs managers. Give a manager a list of problems or tasks, and he or she will get them all done. They are good at delegating. Managers want their staff to share their focus and willingness to work hard.
No one will complain when they have talented managers in their organization. But leaders will take things to the next level.
This article is an excerpt from my book, “Be A Leader Not Just A Manager.” The book is full of practical advice for current managers and those who seek leadership positions in the future.