Manager or Leader?

Manager or Leader?

A comprehensive article in Executive Excellence by Craig Hickman, Chairman and CEO of Management Perspectives Group, gives the best and clearest distinctions between managers and leaders I have ever read. He points out that too many people think of managers as dull, impersonal, plodding, tedious, unimaginative and stagnant, whereas they think of leaders as inspiring, personable, charismatic, charming and creative. Say the word "manager," and most people seem to think of an analytical, controlled structure which is deliberate and orderly, while "leader" identifies a more experimental, visionary, flexible, uncontrolled and creative end.

It is true that managers differ from leaders and a natural tension has always existed between the two. Managers seek stability; leaders thrive in crisis. Managers exercise authority; leaders leverage their influence. Managers duplicate; leaders originate. Managers instruct; leaders inspire. Mr. Hickman points out that "managers too often stifle leaders and leaders too often ignore managers and, as a result, the growing schism between managers and leaders has greatly contributed to the competitive erosion of our organizations."

He says that to regain our competitive edge "we don't need managers operating more like leaders or leaders behaving more like managers; rather, we need each to value more fully the unique orientations and strengths of the others. We need appreciation, not antagonism; integration, not separation; balance, not myopia." He says that practicing the science of management need not subvert the art of leadership. By working together, great things can happen. Managers focus on duties because they can get a firm grip on concrete and finite tasks. Leaders, in contrast, focus on dreams because they represent an exciting future and infinite possibility. But ultimately you can't survive on one or the other, but must strike an appropriate and dynamic balance between the two.

The ultimate competitive advantage lies not in controlling one or several success variables, but in tapping the natural tension between management and leadership. Mr. Hickman says that success hinges equally on the minds of managers and the souls of leaders. Take seriously Mr. Hickman's advice and I'll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!

Zig Ziglar is known as America’s Motivator. He authored 33 books and produced numerous life changing programs. He will be remembered as a man who lived out his faith daily.