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A Manager Masquerading in Leader’s Clothing

by Hal Levenson on Feb 13, 2013 5:49:03 AM

When employees look at your firm’s leader (you, perhaps?) what do they see? Do they see the leader of the company they trust to take the firm into a strong and promising future? Or, do they see a manager masquerading in leader’s clothing? Do they see a leader? Or, do they see someone who might not be capable of more than just managing processes and people?

Leadership vs. Management

Management focuses on getting things done. It’s goal is wise use of systems, processes, people, and resources. It is concerned about the present. Management is concerned about how to do what must be done most efficiently and effectively, at the lowest reasonable cost. Management approaches a task analytically and logically to understand and implement the details required in order to accomplish what is expected.

Leadership, on the other hand focuses creatively on what the company can become. It is driven by a vision of what can be and how to make that happen. Leadership is concerned about a holistic image of the company in the future. It is concerned about the relationships and strategies required to make the vision into reality. Leadership understands that processes and systems, people and resources will be required, but is more concerned about how all of the processes and systems work together. It strives to share the vision, win support for the vision, and keep the entire organism moving in the right direction.

Micro-managers typically do not make the best leaders. They are too concerned with detail. They are too fascinated with the process and the efficiency of the people performing the process to ensure optimal achievement. Detail oriented individuals are ideally suited to manage people, processes, resources and systems to reduce wasted resources and effort, to streamline processes, and to achieve the best result at the lowest cost. They are typically not big-picture visionaries because they are too drawn to mastery of the details.

Visionaries, on the other hand, typically do not make the best managers. They tend to be less interested in the details of the process or the systems because they look at what is and ask what it can become. They are driven by the need to make a better future a reality by mapping a trajectory that can move the company of today into the future they envision. Leaders also have the ability to share the vision in ways that are compelling and contagious, bringing others along to share the excitement and help to build the highway to that future. They are less drawn to the details of a single process because they are focused on the big picture and on the future.

Where Do You Fit?

Who are you in the life of your company? Are you a leader – a person with a vision of where and what the company can be in the future? Are you the person who can share and win support for your vision and continue to hold the vision before your employees until the vision becomes reality? Or, are you a manager masquerading in a leader’s clothes?

One reason some companies find themselves stuck on a plateau or spiraling downward into a deep dip in the change curve is that a manager is masquerading as a leader, without the ability to envision the future at the end of the current business trajectory. Great managers seldom make the best leaders. When they try to lead, they often fail in the ability to envision a future they cannot see and fix today. Are you a great leader, or a great manager? Are you in a corporate role for which you are best suited?

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