To manage or lead… that is the big question. This is a guest post by Alex Williams.
Leadership and management are complementary and inseparable skills, but they cannot be used interchangeably. When promoted to a project manager, you don’t automatically become a leader. Every good leader must learn to manage both their teams and projects.
To Manage or Lead?
Here are some of the most significant differences between management and leadership.
1. Leaders Pull, Managers Push
Managing people is a task-oriented and highly rational process. It focuses on events, processes, and calculations. Managers focus on current setting and control situations to achieve or exceed certain short-term goals.
What Do Managers Do?
Managers resort to the “push” principle. They “allocate resources,” “estimate effort,” and “calculate durations” regularly. They assign tasks, provide necessary guidance, and monitor and assess their employees’ performance constantly. Most importantly, managers have authority over their employees and usually provide work direction.
Employees report progress to managers and, in turn, earn a salary for doing their job. Managers follow the “push” principle by pushing work, projects, etc. to their employees.
How do Leaders Lead?
Leadership, on the other hand, is people-oriented. Leaders are different from managers because of their high levels of emotional intelligence. Namely, good leaders don’t necessarily focus on their employees’ skills and performance. Instead, they focus on their behaviors, interests, and attitudes.
Apart from being authoritative, leaders inspire. They contextualize ideas and encourage team members to look at the big picture. Leaders also motivate people to follow their vision and become part of something bigger.
2. Leaders Innovate, Managers Use Proven Patterns
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” ~Steve Jobs
While everything around them is working like clockwork, leaders seek a better way forward. They constantly seek learning and acquire new skills. Most importantly, they’re comfortable in their own shoes and stand their ground. They make difficult decisions even if they know they’ll be criticized.
Managers are more rational, on the other hand, and focus on data-driven decisions. They double down on methods that’ve proven profitable instead of creating new approaches to lead employees and organize workflow.
3. Leaders Take Risks, Managers Reduce them
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.” ~ Steve Jobs
Leaders are not afraid of failing. Instead, they see each failure is a step closer to success. This is exactly why leaders try new things and innovative approaches, regardless of the outcomes. There are risks with this approach, but they control them because they influence the growth of the entire company.
This is where managers shine. By monitoring industry trends, conducting a wide range of analyses, and making data-driven decisions, they identify potential problem areas. That prevents, or at least controls, them to reduce risk.
4. Leaders Build Relationships, Managers Get Things Done
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things,” ~ Peter Drucker
As you have seen so far, it’s all about perspective. Leaders are innovators and visionaries. Their people make every aspect of our lives simpler. Leaders always look at the bigger picture with dedication to distant goals they strive to achieve.
Leaders build and nurture strong relationships with people, be it coworkers, employees, or stakeholders. That gains support for their vision. They invest great effort into these relationships to find the best way to approach each group.
Unlike leaders, managers build necessary systems to set and achieve objectives. They are analytical and assess individual tasks and overall performance to ensure they are profitable. Most importantly, managers complete short-term goals and solve burning issues immediately.
For instance, when managers notice a lack of motivation affecting workplace performance, they create incentive programs as soon as possible. They implement them quickly to turn around morale.
So What’s The Takeaway?
From the examples above it’s clear that you manage tasks, but lead people. To succeed in this turbulent entrepreneurial landscape, leaders need to manage and vice versa. You could separate these two roles in the past but not anymore!
In today’s economy, value is strongly related to your employees’ engagement so management and leadership go hand in hand. People expect their managers to organize their tasks and give them purpose. Managers must nurture skills, cherish individuality, inspire results, boost employee satisfaction, and build high performing teams.
About the Author – Guest Post by Alex Williams