Alex Tana and associates

Leader or manager

Let me challenge you today: are you a leader or a manager? As you think of your business, your family, the groups that you are part of how do you see yourself? Through your thoughts, words and actions are you a leader or a manger? This is a key question in understanding what is happening in the groups you are involved in, the direction they are pursuing and the strategies that they are implementing to achieve their goals.

Recently there has been a dramatic change in the political direction of this country. This is not the right place to discuss politics but I want to take advantage of this event to share a few key thoughts on this critical issue. What are the facts? The long standing prime minister Tony Blair has given space to Gordon Brown to take over the running of the country as the new prime minister.

This is a major shift in the political reality of this country. The UK has lost a great leader, whatever one's personal opinion of Tony Blair may be, and has gained a hopefully good manager. As the pundits will say... time will tell. But from the initial statements and actions Gordon Brown does not appear to have what will make him a "leader". He may well prove to be an excellent manager; but I doubt he will ever be a leader. Hence the question above: in your business, family, groups are you a leader or a manager?

I have already talked about the character of true leadership in another article (see also on this website). But what is the difference between a leader and a manager? I do not have much space to go into details here but I want to highlight the major differences. In doing so my aim is to stir some thinking within you and the world around you. And thinking is the first step to positive change and forward action. (Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss any or all of these points further.) So what is the difference between a leader and a manager?

1. A leader is often born, a manager is generally made;

2. A leader leads, a manager co-ordinates;

3. A leader sees what is not yet there, a manager needs to see and know in order to act;

4. A leader is the pioneer who creates the future, a manager is the builder of the present;

5. A manager listens to the crowd, a leader listens to his/her convictions;

6. A manager follows a plan of action, a leader follows inspiration and vision

7. A manager tries to please the crowd, a leader pursues what is deemed right and appropriate;

8. A leader is always ready to take even personal risks, a manager tries to minimise and avoid risks at all costs;

9. A leader will stand his/her course and decisions, a manager will be ready to change his/her course if need be;

10. A leader will often take unpopular decisions if need be, a manager will try and avoid them or postpone them;

11. A leader will take responsibility for his/her failings, a manager will often tend to blame the staff for missing his/her instructions;

12. A leader has the courage to be unpopular at times, a manager will always try to be popular;

13. A leader will inspire and motivate, a manager will at best encourage and reward;

14. A leader sees the broader picture, a manager sees the world around him/her;

15. A good manager is often a good people person, a great leader is most likely to be an ideas person;

16. A leader is often a multi-skilled and multi-experienced person, a manager is often a specialist with a narrower experience;

17. A leader is like an entrepreneur, a manager is like a start-up business person;

18. A leader is concerned with the growth and development of the business, a manager is concerned with achieving the targets set;

19. A manager is the best person to recruit staff, a leader is the best person to make the new staff part of the company;

20. A leader is motivated by the success in achieving goals and dreams, a manager is often motivated by what and how much rewards he/she can get out of a situation/business.

There is obviously much more that could be said but I believe these points are a good starter for any discussion on the role of a "leader" and that of a "manager" in any situation, whether at a personal or business level. Just one last question: so, are you a leader or a manager?

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