‘Leader’ and ‘Manager’ are both very commonly used words in the world of organizations, sometimes interchangeably. In a way it makes sense to call managers ‘leaders’ and not other way around, as managers do lead their respective teams towards identified goals. However, if we are to make a closer inspection to determine the subtle difference between a leader and a manager, we need to highlight that ‘identified goals’ are only a part of the mechanism that works towards completing the ‘bigger picture’. This ‘bigger picture’ is the business vision or long term goals that A leader ideates. A leader is the keeper of these long term goals and he/she leads the teams to meet them.
However, what is interesting is- the journey from a start up to a successful business enterprise leads to changing of the status quo. Which means- a leader must manage his/her teams (like a manager) and managers must lead the teams through solving problems and aligning team efforts towards achievement of bigger goals.
So, does it means that leaders and managers are the same? Well, Not really. To identify the difference, we need to know how managers operate or how they contribute in an organization.
How Managers Operate?
- Managers set goals for their teams, keeping the bigger picture in mind and calculating the outcome.
- They also offer instructions on how the work should be done and offer Do’s and Don’ts for their teams to reduce risks or errors.
- They assess and identify resource performance and assign right jobs to the right people.
- They measure progress and record it.
- Managers develop supportive relationships: listening, encouraging and praising team members to keep them motivated.
By looking at the above stated points, it is easy to grasp that managers are very important for any organizations to maintain productivity of units/teams. Managers literally pave the path for a company to succeed. However, as it seems, their work mainly depends on a few sets of rules that focus on stabilizing, maintaining, and monitoring an organizational structure. And it is very important of course, but that does not define an organization in all of its entirety.
The most important part of an organization
It is the vision, or a unique idea, or identification of a purpose- that sets up an organization. And it is the most important part of the organization. And while managers work towards supporting this core idea behind the organization (through rules and regulations), the responsibility of preserving, improving, and excelling the core idea befalls on the leader.
Responsibility of a leader
A leader can and should be a part of his/her team. From giving instructions to the teams, understanding their capability and assigning them the right job, and working with them to find solutions, leaders can take part in these formal jobs. But, their responsibility is far greater than this. They must share their business vision (the big picture if you will) and offer understanding of actions and events, to help their team make meaning of their own efforts.
Leaders must inspire their team by helping them understand what it is the organization is trying to achieve. This creates a deeper bond within team members and invokes a sense of belonging, which motivates people to push the envelope. It is a leader’s responsibility to lead by example, to foster collaborations and build relations within business sectors to create a name for his/her organization.
Rules and regulations have always been and will always be there, but the leaders have to bear the responsibility to look beyond rules and set new way of doing things, that are more efficient and easy. Leaders take risk by making decisions and instil confidence within the entire team by focusing on vision and not obstacles. However, the most sacred of all their responsibilities is to nurture their team members to excel in their own field and become leaders themselves.
What You Need To Look Forward For!
So, in a nutshell, managerial work is about implementation, while leadership demands creativity, development, and envisioning success through ideation of unique work/work path. Therefore, it is clear that if you are a leader in an organization, you have to work as the keeper of your business vision and lead everyone to believe in it as intensely as you do.
On the other hand, if you are a manager or an employee, you must know that your leader is working his/her best to bestow leadership abilities within you. So, following your leader easily becomes the best path for you to take for a growing career. However, in both cases, constant self-assessment is required to make sure that you (leader or a manager) are always giving your best and trying to raise up the bar to perform better.
In a progressive organization, every employee has an equal opportunity to grow and ultimately become a leader. That’s the kind of work environment Leaders and Managers collectively work towards to create and maintain in an ideal organization.