When dealing with people, especially employees, the most important question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to be a leader or a manager. It is important to understand that both are different. Managing and leading people are two totally different aspects of any managerial position holder. And understanding these innate differences will help you improve in how you tackle situations and people.
Here are some of the main differences between a manager and a leader.
• Focus: The main difference between managing and leading people lies in the focus of each aspect. In other words, you lead people while you manage work. The focus of leaders is always towards the people, trying to motivate them and move them to do better. Managers, on the other hand, are focused more on getting the job done, irrespective of the challenges that arise in that endeavor.
• Style of functioning: The second area where managing differs from leading is in the manner or style they adopt for their functioning. Managers are often transactional, in that they have subordinates who are told what they have to do in order to get any job done. Leaders, on the other hand, are transformational, where they are persuasive and inspiring. Leaders often lead their team to their heart's desires without having to tell their team what to do.
• Essence: The essence of a manager lies in stability, where s/he is not willing to take risks but wants to get the job done without moving out of his/her comfort zones. Leaders, on the contrary, are known to be risk takers who believe in change being the essence of growth.
• Decision making: Another area in which managing and leading people differs is with regard to decision making. Where leaders facilitate decision making among the team by calling for opinions and rationale, managers make the decisions themselves and tell their subordinates what to do. The approach towards handling work is also different between managers and leaders. Where leaders set the direction for any team to follow, managers plan the details and expect their subordinates to simply do all that is required to be done.
• Behavioral differences: Apart from the above, there are several behaviors that are different between managers and leaders. Managers are often involved with being right rather than concentrating on what is right. Often it is seen that after completion of any job, leaders would rather give credit to the entire team than take it for himself or herself, as opposed to a manager. Similarly, where there is blame to be accepted, a leader would accept the blame rather than blame a team, which again is just the opposite of what most managers would do.
• Goals: Goals are also different when managing and leading people. In other words, where you are managing, goals are often short term and restricted to the task at hand. On the other hand, where you lead, you have a vision and a long term goal.
Constantly asking yourself questions regarding these areas of differences will help you understand where you stand. Often, you may be required to be both managing and leading people, given that different situations require different tactics. In such cases, understanding the differences can help you be the best at both.
In a nutshell, a leader is required to be a manager but has to keep in mind these differentiating factors. He will definitely have to stand by his/her team through thick and thin and keep them motivated by ensuring their professional development.
A good read indeed.
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