Are You a Manager or a Leader?


There is considerable discussion about the differences and similitude between Management and Leadership roles. Whether good Managers can be good Leaders and whether great Leaders are born or is it a quality that can be developed with the right training.

Regardless of your inclination, you will find that some of the competencies necessary to excel in either role are interchangeable: they both involve goal/task management, a degree of authority and power and influencing others within and outside the organization.  Managers operate under a Leadership and Leaders must understand the “short-term” challenges faced by Managers in order to motivate and lead them into a “long-term” strategy, which often implies change.

Both positions need to master technical skills, human skills and conceptual skills. Nonetheless, the intensity and frequency in which each these skills are used is essentially different in the process of Leadership vs. Management.

A Manager’s focus is typically goal oriented, seeking a degree of order and consistency while a Leader’s focus is more process oriented and tends to seek change and movement to develop the organization beyond its own limits to either reach full potential or transform or re-invent itself.

An individual can be a fantastic Leader, a great Manager and in some occasions, even both; however one thing is clear each process requires mastering slightly different skills and competencies. Navigating the fields of both Man­agement and Leadership is usually just as simple as knowing what context is most appropriate to the situ­ation and applying oneself in a leadership or manage­ment capacity. The basic difference is that a Leader needs to create and communicate visions for change while inspiring others and maintaining long-term focus.

Growing into a Leadership role requires among other things flexibility and the ability to broaden your focus beyond the standard. With the proper guidance and a good dose of perseverance, these qualities can be acquired.

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References & Background Reading

Leadership vs. Management University of Kentucky Community and Leadership Development K.  G. Ricketts,

Northouse, P. (2007). Leadership theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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