Leadership skills tend to be grabbing the spotlight at the moment with high profile ‘TED talk’ style videos seemingly everywhere on the internet, and large sums of money being exchanged to attend leadership seminars. However, managers are just as necessary for success because, without them, the spotlight would probably not work in the first place.
It is symbiosis that creates success. Whether the collaboration of management and leadership happens in a single individual or a wider team, the holistic, combined effect, is where a business succeeds. Leaders and managers soon hit the rocks if they do not have each other. When you consider the dominant traits of each style you soon see how why this is the case.
The Biggest Difference
Perhaps the biggest difference between a manager and leader is the expression of a goal and the process of achievement. Leaders tend to be focused on the big picture. They see where the business needs to be, and are highly skilled in expressing that vision and drive to others. Managers tend to be very grounded in the practicalities of the business. They know the details, and more importantly they know what those details mean for the progress towards the end goal. A good manager can plot the route that is needed and put the logistics in place to reach a desired outcome. They live for the day to day task and often constantly strive to improve the working practices around them.
When it comes to delegation, good leaders know when to let go. In fact, this is often one of their most useful traits. Leaders will often find themselves asking advice and then tasking someone else with the actuation of the result, guiding rather than dictating the process. They allow ownership and give responsibility to others. Good managers are usually very adept at understanding the role of others. They know their team well and know what the systems and processes around them are capable of. Their step by step focus allows them to assess and implement the business needs by using the skills of their team to best effect
In a larger team, a leader can motivate and incentivise the workforce. One trait common to people who run successful businesses is the ability to bring others into their vision of the development of the company. This, in turn, meets the managers’ needs because investing in the ethos of the business results in a strong team that is willing to work on the individual tasks and projects needed for success. Again, here a combination of leadership and management works to facilitate a good working environment.
These are just some of the differences between the two approaches, and of course human beings are nothing if not adaptable and will usually contain a healthy splash of both skillsets but most of us will have preference for one or the other. Great individuals and teams have a solid mix of leader and manager to draw upon as needed and it is a perilous road if you allow one to dominate the other. It is okay leading and having the idea for a better mousetrap, but you also need to prove it by having the management skills that catch the mouse. A successful team is all about balance, a clear goal and mutual understanding.