Leading and managing are not one and the same. Both are essential to any organization, but you should understand the difference. Are you a leader or a manager? Check out these characteristics and skill sets to see where you fit in.
A different view
By definition, a leader leads. What does that mean in everyday practice? A leader motivates and inspires. This individual is creative, insightful, and looks at the big picture—a forward-thinking visionary.
The manager, conversely, narrows their focus to a more operational perspective. A taskmaster, the manager is charged with ensuring that the work gets done.
The leader is transformational and the manager is transactional.
Think of a parade. The leader has the idea for the parade and envisions who will participate and what the event will look like. The manager oversees the activity that goes into pulling it off, like recruiting, scheduling, planning the route, and dealing with the municipality—not actually doing all those tasks but ensuring that someone capable does. Then, on parade day, the leader is the grand marshall and all the marchers and floats follow happily behind.
A leader thinks outside the box and seeks opportunities. To do this successfully requires taking risks. Each leader will determine the level of risk that is acceptable. A leader regularly works outside the comfort zone, testing and nudging others to do the same. This is where the ideas take shape. Leaders are pioneers who bring us the next greatest thing—like the iPod, Redbox, Amazon Echo, and Uber. These revolutionary thinkers and doers paved the way for others to follow.
It is a manager’s job, however, to limit risk. A good manager sees problems before they occur. They set contingency plans in place and ensure the right people are in the right seats at the right time to keep the operation moving along smoothly.
A leader steps outside the comfort zone and the manager monitors the door.
Change happens—or it should. But how does it filter through an organization?
The leader seeks out and embraces change, seeing it as an important factor in positive growth. If you’re not changing, you’re stagnant, right?
The manager is then tasked with managing change. The leader can introduce change and explain to the group why it matters. The leader excites and rallies teams. The manager then assigns duties and monitors the adoption of the change.
The leader innovates and the manager activates.
The deciding factor
Who makes the decisions? Well, they both do, to a degree, however, a leader is more likely to empower the manager to make decisions, because nurturing and coaching people is part of the leader’s DNA.
The truly successful new homes sales managers I’ve known are both managers and leaders. They inspire their sales professionals and empower them to grow, while still providing direction and boundaries. They serve up the tools their teams need—a definite management task—and then motivate them to explore their potential with them.
You CAN be both a leader and a manager, if you choose. Just understand which you are at any given moment.