- Laureen Peltier
Leader Versus Manager
- Christa Heibel
- 18 June 2015
In the late 80’s, businesses began adapting the term leadership to replace the more antiquated term manager. By the mid 90’s most businesses had eagerly made the transition from using management to using leadership. Rather than ‘manager team’, businesses began marketing ‘leadership team’, which cast a broad net to identify everyone from the executive decision-making team to the front line supervisors.
What is in a name?
Is there really a difference between manager and leader? That depends on who you ask. Human Resources will define the difference in a slightly esoteric definition. “Managers have people who work for them; leaders have people follow them.” Harvard Business Review gives a more strategic definition. “Managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, manager create circles of power; leaders have circles of influence.” In short, managers motivate, leaders inspire.
I have to admit, leader has a nice ring to it. I would rather introduce my boss as one of our leaders rather than my manager. One makes me feel empowered and part of something larger than myself, the other makes me feel dissuaded and subordinate. Maybe that the entire crux of the manager versus leader issue – it makes us feel empowered. Empowered employees perform at a higher level and have fewer human resource issues. That all equates to a stronger bottom line.
But does all this mean that a manager has become antiquated?
Not quite. The functions of a manger haven’t really changed and neither has the job definition or title. You won’t see Leader Wanted for Process Improvement Department on any job posting board, at least not yet. Companies still ask for managers to direct employee time and department expenses. Our business cards still manager, not leader. Yet when it comes to training, we use leadership development, not manager training.
If you’re not confused yet, consider this: Leadership isn’t a title or a job description. It’s about creating vision, driving results. It can be at any level in a company. It’s commitment and faith and conviction. Managers develop employees, protect the assets of a company and manage the P&L among other things. Or I can simply say: Leaders move the company forward, while managers keep the business going.
In other words, we can’t have one without the other.