Are a leader or just a manager?

2016-10-11 18:44:33

Darek Koseski
Recently I have been often engaged in a series of discussions on leadership. It was not only the effect of situation on the current political scene and the black Monday. It was also due to the problems faced by my good friends. So we discussed about what distinguishes a leader from the others? What are the unique features that others are missing? What are the biggest differences between the leader and an average manager?

In my long corporate career, I was fortunate to work with some people who were both good leaders and managers, but also with the ones who were poor at both management and leading.

How to become a leader?
One way to become the leader is assigning by your superiors. If you are resourceful, you know how to solve problems or know someone who can help you with doing so - you have an upper hand. When everybody can count on you, in a short time it will be noticed by a person holding a higher position in the organizational chart of the company. If you have further access to the information which can be properly processed and used, then sooner or later you will become a leader.
Could it be?

In the past, I did not really understand the difference between a leader and a manager. I assumed that managers were natural leaders and that is why they were one's superiors. After some time, when I started interested in this subject, I realized that is not always the same case.

So who is a leader and and who is just a manager?

Tanya Prive in an article in Forbes defined the most important characteristics of modern leadership assigning these features to a leader:
1. Promoting integrity and ethics as a fundamental value of the company
2. Delegation of responsibilities triggers employees greater involvement and responsibility for their work
3. Avoiding barriers of communication, open dialogue, open door policy
4. Confidence especially in times of crisis, part of the job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale
5. Being an example of commitment to work, meeting the deadlines and promises
6. A positive attitude, energy, maintaining a balance between work and pleasure
7. Creativity, thinking "outside the box", making quick decisions
8. Intuition supported by own experience or mentor
9. Inspiring team, transfer the vision of the company's development
10. Individual approach to employees

Brian Tracy points out the top 7 leadership qualities & attributes of great leaders:
1. Vision
Great leaders have vision… They can see into the future. They have a clear, exciting idea of where they are going and what they are trying to accomplish and are excellent at strategic planning. This quality separates them from managers. Having a clear vision turns the individual into a special type of person. This quality of vision changes a “transactional manager” into a “transformational leader”.
While a manager gets the job done, great leaders tap into the emotions of their employees.
2. Courage
The quality of courage means that you are willing to take risks in the achievement of your goals with no assurance of success. Since there is no certainty in life nor business, every commitment you make and every action you take entails a risk of some kind. Among the seven leadership qualities, courage is the most identifiable outward trait.
3. Integrity
In every strategic planning session that I have conducted for large and small corporations, the first value that all the gathered executives agree upon for their company is integrity. They all agree on the importance of complete honesty in everything they do, both internally and externally. The core of integrity is truthfulness. Integrity requires that you always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundational quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business.
4. Humility
Great leaders are those who are strong and decisive but also humble. Humility doesn’t mean that you’re weak or unsure of yourself. It means that you have the self-confidence and self-awareness to recognize the value of others without feeling threatened. It means that you are willing to admit you could be wrong, that you recognize you may not have all the answers. And it means that you give credit where credit is due.
5. Strategic Planning
Great leaders are outstanding at strategic planning. They have the ability to look ahead, to anticipate with some accuracy where the industry is going. Leaders have the ability to anticipate trends, well in advance of their competitors. They continually ask, “Based on what is happening today, where is the market going? Where is it likely to be in three months, six months, one year, and two years?” They do this through thoughtful strategic planning. Because of increasing competitiveness, only the leaders and organizations that can accurately anticipate future markets can possibly survive. Only leaders with foresight can gain the “first mover advantage.”
6. Focus
Leaders always focus on the needs of the company and the situation. Leaders focus on results, on what must be achieved by themselves, by others, and by the company. Great leaders focus on strengths, in themselves and in others. They focus on the strengths of the organization, on the things that the company does best in satisfying demanding customers in a competitive marketplace. Your ability as a leader to call the shots and make sure that everyone is focused and concentrated on the most valuable use of their time is essential to the excellent performance of the enterprise.
7. Cooperation
Your ability to get everyone working and pulling together is essential to your success. Leadership is the ability to get people to work for you because they want to. The 80/20 rule applies here: Twenty percent of your people contribute 80 percent of your results. Your ability to select these people and then to work well with them on a daily basis is essential to the smooth functioning of the organization. Gain the cooperation of others by making a commitment to get along well with each key person every single day. You always have a choice when it comes to a task: You can do it yourself, or you can get someone else to do it for you. Which is it going to be?

So there are many definitions, characteristics, etc. For me, the most important differences between a leader and a manager are:
• Managers supervise workers, while leaders encourage other to become leaders themselves, to be responsible for the areas assigned to them.
• Managers make decisions themselves, while leaders encourage others to learn and make decisions independently.
• Managers feel the need to command and control, while the leaders will inspire and encourage others.
• Managers use staff as the company's resources (you probably heard many times the phrase "Our employees are our greatest resource"?), while leaders treat employees like ordinary people (in a good sense).

So how to become a leader? Some say that great leaders simply born as the leaders. However no one would deny that there are some skills that you can develop to improve the natural abilities. I know many leaders who, through their self-awareness, hard work, faith that they will succeed, have achieved success in this area too.

Please note that a good leader knows the needs of both your team as well as the needs of management and is able to match them. Try to create a new space that people you work with feel they create something valuable. In this way, no one will ask questions how far and why?

Communication should be open, there will be a space to share both good and bad information, without mutual evaluation, criticizing, or questioning.
As a leader, be a good listener, because in this way you can gain the trust of the others. Listening and focus your attention on the ideas of colleagues or co-workers can generate new innovative ideas.

Be open for the team, of which you are part, actively activate younger colleagues to act. It enhances your reputation as a team member, animator, organizer and motivator.
It is also important to have a vision and inner mission. This is your source of your energy, which will support the operation, will drive your actions. Faith in people and inner courage will help you to overcome the most difficult moments.

There are many ready-made techniques, through which can help by your own or with the support of a coach or mentor. You should carry out regular self-assessment tests of your skills, analyze your strengths and thus will naturally use to work in a team. On the other hand, you have a greater awareness of having weaknesses and work on them. But ideals do not exist, no one is great in everything, but do not stop to work on yourselves.

There are many other skills that distinguish leaders. I hope that this text will encourage you to seek them in yourselves. If you still want to work harder over the area and looking for a mentor or a coach, please contact me, because the change you wish starts now.

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