How to Know if You’re a Manager or a Leader
You’re not managing just because you run meetings or have a title.
You might own the place, but that doesn’t make you a leader.
Think of leadership and management as distinct ways of showing up.
Manager or leader:
John Kotter’s book, “That’s Not How We Do it Here!” is a fable that addresses tension between the divergent functions of management and leadership. The following lists are inspired by his work.
You’re managing when you:
- Plan and budget.
- Solve day-to-day problems.
- Track processes and measure results.
- Hire, fire, and concern yourself with job descriptions.
You’re leading when you:
- Set direction.
- Align people.
- Seize opportunities.
Insights from Warren Bennis:
“Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.”
- You’re managing when you concern yourself with how and when questions.
- You’re leading when you concern yourself with what and why questions.
Over-led organizations end up chaotic.
Over-managed organizations end up bureaucratic.
Which is better:
Leaders need managers and managers need leaders. It’s a matter of context.
- Leaders drive change.
- Managers require stability to deliver results reliably.
Small organizations in stable environments need manager-leaders. But you can’t manage your way out of a crisis.
Chaotic organizations need management.
Stagnant organizations need leadership.
Vision is a fundamental distinction:
Managers concern themselves with execution. Leaders concern everyone with purpose and direction – vision.
Ask management to craft a vision and they make a five-year plan.
Vision includes the practical question, “Where can the horses in the barn take us if we all pull together and stretched our capacity?”
“What’s crucial about a vision is not its originality but how well it serves the interests of important constituencies – customers, stockholders, employees—and how easily it can be translated into a realistic competitive strategy.” John Kotter
What is the difference between management and leadership?
How do managers and leaders best relate to each other?
I talked with John Kotter a couple years ago. Perhaps this post will be useful: HOW TO WORK TOGETHER WITHOUT KILLING EACH OTHER