Are you a Manager or a Leader?

by Barry on March 11, 2010

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There has been a lot written about leadership versus management. Most of these treat management as an evil, and attributes the success of organizations to having strong leaders. I believe that successful organizations need to have people who are equally skilled as both managers and leaders.

An effective organization needs to have managers who also possess strong leadership skills. While it is important for the manager to control costs, measure sales, and make the organization as efficient as possible (all management traits), it is also crucial for the manager to communicate a vision, develop a culture based on trust and respect, and mentor its staff (all leadership traits).

The following are the various management and leadership traits.

A manager keeps an eye on the bottom line and works on planning and budgeting. The manager develops project plans, timelines, and budgets, and they are always focused on ROI.

A leader keeps an eye on the horizon and works on creating a vision and strategy. They are working on the future of the organization, and making sure that they have a sense of purpose that goes beyond satisfying the shareholders.

A manager organizes staffing, directs and controls people, and creates boundaries. They are concerned with developing policies, guidelines, and responsibility matrixes all in the effort to improve efficiency and quality. They want to produce more goods and sell more services.

Leaders work to break down the boundaries focusing on collaboration and teamwork. They create a shared culture and shared values, and help others grow.

A manager acts on position power. They are the boss and this is known to everyone. They use their power to correct behavior and to achieve desired results.

A leader acts are based on personal power. A leader focuses on people. They want to inspire and motivate others and they are a coach, a facilitator, a mentor, or a servant. The leader strives to empower people to make work more simulating and challenging.

Personal Qualities
A manager is emotional distant. They act from the mind. They talk about conformity, expert minds, and they possess insight into the organization.

A leader forms emotional connections. They act from the heart. They talk about listening, non-conformity and they possess insight into people.

A manager works to maintain stability and predictability, and creates a culture of efficiency. They focus on the short-term results that allow an organization and its stakeholders to prosper.

A leader works to create change and a culture of integrity through transparency and openness. They are focused on the long-term aspirations to fulfill the vision and strategy.

As inspiration and source for this article, I referenced the book The Leadership Experience authored by Richard Daft and published by Thomson South-Weston in 2005. I used this amazing book as part of my recent MBA studies and highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about leadership.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

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Reply April 11, 2019 at 11:12 am

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and article is in fact fruitful for me, keep up posting these types of articles or reviews.


Barry March 17, 2010 at 11:24 am

Hi Carrie,

Great question. I think that you need to be equally skilled at being both a leader and a manager (a hybrid). As you pointed out, there are times that you need to be a manager (e.g., “we must be ready to present the designs by tomorrow at 2pm”), and other times, you need to lead (e.g., “let’s brainstorm ideas that will make all of us better at collaborating”). The problem is that many people believe that you are either a manager or a leader, that this is a binary decision, where I believe that you need to be experienced in both management and leadership to really be effective.

All the best,

- Barry


Carrie Glassmeyer March 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm

In my industry, I am required to act as both and have received a great deal of praise as well as positive responses from my team members. From your descriptions, there are a few things, in order to be effective OR just because of the way the teams are set up, that I cannot or do not do. I cannot be too emotionally distant and I only come from a position of power when a tough decision has to be made and team members disagree. But I am never called upon or seen as a “boss”. In most situations, I probably have final say on something, but usually, there is an Account Executive or Director that may be able to trump me.

I also settle all family business, not only with the team, but with the client as well.

So all in all, I am 90%, both–a hybrid. And I know its possible b/c I do it all the time and do it effectively.

Do you think, in your experiences, that its possible to meld the two in most cases? Do you think most people could and should be both?

I would love to hear your take on it :=)



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