Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leaders and Managers

Leaders and managers are different. By definition, a manager works within a system to maintain existing goals and direction. They use people and equipment to meet a goal or they use a process to produce results.

A leader by contrast, sets the direction for projects. They bring vision to reality by gaining commitment from the people in the organization.

· Work within the existing culture
· Maintain existing relationships
· Plan and budget
· Organize and staff
· Control and problem solve


· Create visions and excitement
· Set a direction
· Align people
· Build new relationships and structure
· Motivate and inspire
While individuals might have a talent towards one versus the other, leadership and management are not mutually exclusive – great leaders can be great managers and vise versa. Obviously, there is tremendous advantage for someone who possesses both leadership and management skills to achieve great things.

This by no means implies that management is an easy task. Mastering the skills necessary to be an effective and efficient manager can take many years.

Successful organizations need both managers and leaders. Management activities are critical to any business. Most often, management is providing the “what” that needs to be done in the daily operation. Leadership provides the “how” those management activities get accomplished. Companies should have the “what” and “how” aligned for optimum results.

For example, when senior management shares the company vision with the workforce, they understand their role in the overall picture. This leads to greater employee buy-in and increased productivity. Then, the workforce is able to share feedback with senior management regarding processes/procedures that support the vision. This creates collaboration and greater efficiency.
The practice of leadership is a key business differentiator. Companies are looking for ways to grow their products/services, business relationships, and market share. How can you accomplish more with less? Leadership.

There are 3 common traits that leaders possess:

Inspire. Leaders create the energy for employees to do their best. They clear roadblocks and encourage creativity.

Communicate. Leaders keep employees informed about the organization. They build relationships at all levels in the organization.

Support. Great leaders create environments where employees feel safe to speak up.

The business environment is constantly changing, but the leadership component remains steadfast. It’s important for managers to work collectively to identify and develop leaders in the organization. The success of this collaboration has a direct impact on a company’s future

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