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Are You Leading Like a Leader, Or Managing To Be a Leader? 7 Differences

Move from manager to leader…

I like to ask people in my leadership development workshops, are you leading like a leader, or are you just managing to be a leader? You might say it depends on the day? I get it.

We all have better days than others. But at the end of the day most of us are striving to become not just managers and leaders, but great leaders!

I am not sure who said it, but I love this quote I recently saw. “When I talk to managers I get the feeling they are important. When I talk to leaders I get the feeling that I am important.”

There is a distinct difference between just being a manager and being a great leader. At their most fundamental level, leaders are managers. But unfortunately some get stuck in management land. What does management land look like? It’s a lot different than leadership land.

Managers have employees, leaders inspire followers

Managers copy existing processes, leaders innovate and create new ones

Managers look for others to point a finger at when things go wrong, leaders look at themseleves

Managers have lots of great ideas, leaders execute on them

Managers manage change, leaders embrace it and create it

Managers focus on the present, leaders look towards the future

Managers focus on control, leaders focus on developing trust

One of the premiere places I have witnessed in my life the difference between managers and leaders is in sports. As my kids have grown up they have had many coaches. The ones who cared, provided a vision, generated trust and took accountability for the teams performance were the most successful.

Those they led loved them (most of the time). They would do anything for them and achieved more because of them.

The coaches who led by yelling, didn’t create clear expectations, never assumed positive intent and were always placing blame on the players were not as successful.

The players of these manager type coaches would only give enough not to get in trouble with their coach.

While all leaders are managers to some extent or another, they don’t need to stay stuck there. Making the transition is critical.

What differences do you see in managers and leaders?