Managers and Leaders

Managers and Leaders


The other day a colleague shared this article. Over the years, I have read many articles on this topic. Some give 5 differences, some will give 10 and so on. While all points written here, I have already read elsewhere, but to be fair to the writer, there are some different examples that he has used. However, as mentioned by another reader, the tone of the article is somewhat trying to put managers lower than leaders.

However, to me this comparison itself is flawed. It is like comparing apples and oranges, both are fruits, but are very different. Asking why an orange is not red like an apple or vice versa or citing differences between the two, is probably a good school question (give 5 differences between apples and oranges), but that’s about it.

And the reason I say, this comparison has no meaning is simply because managers and leaders are meant for different tasks. By the very meaning, a manager is there to manage current state of things and a leader is there to typically lead into new arenas. Their job description is vastly different.

A manager is there to manage work. He is expected to know his team well, know each person’s skills, assign tasks as per, look at the schedule, look at daily progress, make sure deliverables are going out on time, make sure deliverables are as per quality expectations, manage client expectations, manage status updates to the client, and alongside also manage the team’s expectations, manage compensation and review, manage R&R and also manage any internal conflicts. And I have probably still not listed all the tasks. If this seems like a trivial list, then you are miles away from reality. With all these tasks that typically take up 100% (and in most cases more than 100%) of manager’s time, where is the time to do anything else. I am not saying a manager cannot innovate or try and do other things, but those are not expected out of him/her and his/her not doing it should in no belittle his/her role.

On the contrary, a Leader, is there to lead. To me, you cannot be leading if you are not out there in the front. You need to stand right at the head of the line and take people with you. As you lead into unknown pastures, you will need to be able to innovate, because you would possibly face circumstances that have not been faced before, or even if they have been, the fact that you are starting afresh, allows you to introspect to do things differently to get better results. Because of unknown pastures, the team would mostly be apprehensive of what’s going to happen and driving them like crazy will not get results. Proper motivation and supporting them at each point of failure as well, will eventually help cross over, victorious.

The real question hence is the person expected to be a manager or a leader and then, is that person doing justice to the job? It would make sense to list top attributes a person should have to be good manager and top attributes for being a good leader and then it someone doesn’t matches up, then it would be fair to say that the person is not a good manager or not a good leader. But trying to say a manager is a not a good leader and a leader is *the* person, is flawed.

This is my personal view. If you agree or disagree, either ways, I will appreciate any comments and would be happy to have a healthy debate on this topic.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.