Sometimes I get my ideas for Captain’s Quarters from my close friends and pirates at iFrog. For this piece, they asked for a better understanding of the difference between a manager and leader. I think this is an excellent question and something worth diving into a little deeper. The definition of a manager is a person who leads functions, departments and likely staff. Managers are identified and assigned by other managers. The definition of a leader is someone who can see how things can be improved and who rallies people to move toward that better vision. Leaders are not assigned by other managers; they are the result of someone concerned with the environment around them and they work to make people safe and the culture better. Thus, they almost always improve the business.
I want to state that both managers and leaders are mission critical to an organization’s success. In a healthy organization, there are always more priorities than resources will allow. A manager’s role is to make certain that the right projects are taken on and the team is productive and efficient in getting the desired results. Managers also steward departments and functions and see that goals and objectives are executed and met. A few of the significant differences between managers and leaders are:
Managers Count Value and Leaders Create Value: Managers count value as they are managing departments and staff and need to be able to quantify the value generated by their team and department, so they understand where to deploy and how to best leverage resources. Managers are focused on a particular function and having a goal to make that function a success. Leaders are more inclined to create value by serving their teammates; making certain they are okay and in the best position to create value and shine. Remember, the key difference is the manager is managing the work product itself while the leader is not about hierarchy, but instead making certain the people and team are secure and empowered to do their jobs.
Power vs Influence: Managers operate within a hierarchy, so they are mostly concerned with their subordinates and the function they manage. Generally, the more a manager gets promoted, the more staff and functions that they manage. In terms of leaders, it is much more about creating a sphere of influence. The best way to identify a leader is to understand the amount of people who seek out their advice who don’t report to them. Having leaders at all levels of an organization is important. Even though they aren’t part of the formal hierarchy, they are absolutely critical to employee performance, job satisfaction, and overall success of the organization.
People vs Work: Managers manage departments, functions, deadlines, work product, quality, and employees. Leaders are people who are making certain those around them on their team are doing well and can succeed. They are obsessed with serving those around them. Leaders can be so effective that employees in other departments want to be on their teams because they know the environment is safe and the team cares about each other. In many cases, the leader or leaders are not the folks officially in charge of the team.
Becoming a manager is clearly the decision of a supervisor and the management team. Individuals are selected to manage usually based upon some level of proficiency in the area in which they work. Then they get to the manager level and manage others within that job function. This happens until the person is far removed from the task at hand and is now in a senior management role managing a department or several functions.
Leadership can happen at any level and at any time. Nobody taps a person on the shoulder to become a leader. Leadership is a choice, not a mandate. The key function of leadership is putting the wellbeing of others first. Leadership is a service to another human being, not a rank to attain. It is a responsibility and an honor. This is a basic human principle of putting somebody else first with no expectation of getting anything in return. This is why when we find good leaders, we want to follow them. As a leader, the individual decides that they want to care for those around them regardless of rank.
I would suggest that in my own growth from my last job as SVP of Retail Marketing helping to lead Dealer War Rooms and Precision Retail Marketing to my current role of CEO of iFrog where I am in charge of the entire organization, nothing has really changed in my life in terms of leadership. What I mean is, my charge in terms of leadership has not changed in terms of people. At GTB, my goal as a leader was to serve my teammates and our clients. Today, as CEO of iFrog, my goal as a leader does not change, I serve my teammates and our clients. Even though my management responsibility is very different in these two positions, my leadership responsibility did not change at all. To be fair, my leadership responsibility has not changed since my part-time high school job as a grocery clerk. Service to others is ingrained into my DNA and it is my reason for being. As the iFrog pirates will tell you, I often say – “I am looking for leaders.” I am looking for other leaders who believe deeply in a life of service. Service to others is the reason iFrog exists – a perfect match.
Lastly, you often hear me say that leadership takes courage. It takes tremendous courage to put our individual needs second to the needs of those around us in service. Leadership is a choice that we make ourselves. There are zero expectations in living a life of service, except that you are helping others live and work better, helping your department or organization succeed and helping your clients achieve unprecedented success. In serving others, you will ultimately be a part of more success than you ever imagined. However, I will say that if you care deeply about those around you, if you like to see others do great things, and you are living a life of service, then you just might be a leader!
Drop me a line and tell me about your leadership experiences 24/7 @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be a pirate, have a great day and lead with courage! #ifrogmarketing, #ifrogtechnology, #pirates, #PiratesForChange