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To Lead Or To Manage That Is The Question
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To Lead Or to Manage That is the Question

What is the difference between a leader and manager? Is there any difference at all?

Being a Manager and a Leader simultaneously is imperative if you are going to be successful in any position where you oversee the performance and productivity of others; and still need to get your own work done on time.

Both hats need to feel comfortable; and both hats need to be changeable at the twinkling of an eye.If not, it can create serious problems in the workplace.

I had a manager once, let’s call him Larry.He was an excellent leader.He worked well with everyone; everyone loved to be around him.

He practiced the “open door” policy and always had time to listen and to bond with his team.He was amazing.The only problem, his desk was always a mess, he was never on schedule with evaluations, he missed scheduled deadlines.

His relationships with his employees were incredible, but his relationship with his director was very strained.He was always behind on everything because his organization and time management skills were almost non-existent.

He was always working after hours to catch up on projects that didn’t get done during the day.

I had another manager once, let’s call her Betty.She was the most organized manager I have ever seen.She was on top of all her meetings, deadlines and always had reports in on time.Her financials for her department shined.

She was appreciated by her director because the reports and documents that were required for the position were always on his desk when requested.

On the other hand, Betty’s team felt neglected and didn’t feel she was interested in them.She was always in her office; most of the time with the door closed.When she did interact with the team, everyone felt like they were just another project, or box that needed to be checked off in her day.

Most of the time when she met with them, it was to reprimand them for things they needed to improve on.They didn’t respect her at all.

I learned long ago that there is a vast difference between managers and leaders.Which one is best?I believe that you “manage” projects and you “lead” people, so everyone needs a little of both in them if they plan on being successful in the workplace.

When is it appropriate to manage?When given a project to complete, managing your schedule, monitoring the budget allotted for the project, meeting deadlines, submitting proposals, writing contracts, etc., all need the attention of the manager side of you.

When is it appropriate to lead?When working with team members, clients, customers, co-workers, the leadership hat needs to surface.People need to feel valued and appreciated.

Have you ever seen someone try to manage people?Most of the time the customer or employee that is being “managed” becomes frustrated and often times offended.They don’t want to be treated like a project or just another box to check.They need the “warm and fuzzies” offered by the leadership side of you.

On the other hand, when your boss wants a project done, they want your management side to surface so the job gets done satisfactorily and on time.Being “warm and fuzzy” doesn’t impress the boss when they have expectations and deadlines.

So, what happened to Larry?When the company began reducing leadership due to the downturn in the economy, Larry was reduced down to a team member.He still had a wonderful report with his fellow co-workers, but he was devastated that he was no longer in leadership.

If you find yourself in Larry’s shoes, take a few courses to enhance your management skills.Often times when leaders lack in management skills, a few courses on time management, organization skills, and project management will strengthen those needed skills and they will be incredibly valuable.

If you are a great leader, you don’t want to be overlooked because you haven’t developed your other half.

Betty remained employed as a manager.She was pretty much a loner; although she was extremely valuable to the company.She often times found herself in conflicts with others because her leadership skills were lacking so severely.She did end up taking a few courses on conflict resolution and leadership development, which helped immensely.When I left the department, she was working hard to overcome her lack of skills and become a better leader.

I always thought that if Larry and Betty would have gotten together and shared skills, they would have made one amazing employee.

There are many courses offered to help develop the leadership and management side of every employee; everyone can become strong in both areas.The most difficult step is discovering the type of person that you are.

If you are one that can be wearing a “manager” hat and an employee comes in and shares a trial in their personal life and you can immediately put down your pen and give them your undivided attention, you have probably found a good balance.

If you are a strong "leader" and you love bonding with your team, but can politely excuse your employee from your office because you have a deadline to meet, you are also a pretty balanced leader/manager.

If you answered “no” to either scenario, you could probably use a few simple courses that will help you become more valuable to your employer.


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