Leading vs. Managing

Are you a manager or a leader? Although you may hear these two terms thrown out interchangeably, they are in fact two very different animals complete with different personalities and world views. By learning whether you are more of a leader or more of a manager, you will gain the insight and self-confidence that comes with knowing more about yourself. The result is greater impact and effectiveness when dealing with others and running your business.

We are going to take a look at the different personality styles of managers versus leaders, the attitudes each have toward goals, their basic conceptions of what work entails, their relationships with others, and their sense of self (or self-identity) and how it develops. Last of all, we will examine leadership development and discover what criteria is necessary for leaders to reach their full potential.

First of all, let's take a look at the difference in personality styles between a manager and a leader.

Managers - emphasize rationality and control, are problem-solvers (focusing on goals, resources, organization structures, or people), often ask question, "What problems have to be solved, and what are the best ways to achieve results so that people will continue to contribute to this organization?", are persistent, tough-minded, hard-working, intelligent, analytical, tolerant, and have goodwill toward others.

Leaders - are perceived as brilliant, but sometimes lonely, achieve control of themselves before they try to control others, can visualize a purpose and generate value in work, and are imaginative, passionate, non-conforming risk-takers.

Managers and leaders have very different attitudes toward goals.

Managers - adopt impersonal, almost passive, attitudes toward goals, decide upon goals based on necessity instead of desire and are therefore deeply tied to their organization's culture, and tend to be reactive since they focus on current information.

Leaders - tend to be active since they envision and promote their ideas instead of reacting to current situations, shape ideas instead of responding to them, have a personal orientation toward goals, and provide a vision that alters the way people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary.

Now let's look at managers' and leaders' conceptions of work.

Managers - view work as an enabling process, establish strategies and makes decisions by combining people and ideas, continually coordinate and balance opposing views, are good at reaching compromises and mediating conflicts between opposing values and perspectives, act to limit choice, and tolerate practical, mundane work because of a strong survival instinct which makes them risk-averse.

Leaders - develop new approaches to long-standing problems and open issues to new options, first use their vision to excite people and only then develop choices which give those images substance, focus people on shared ideals and raise their expectations, and work from high-risk positions because of strong dislike of mundane work.

Managers and leaders have very different relations with others.

Managers - prefer working with others, report that solitary activity makes them anxious, are collaborative, maintain a low level of emotional involvement in relationships, attempt to reconcile differences, seek compromises, and establish a balance of power, relate to people according to the role they play in a sequence of events or in a decision-making process, focus on how things get done, maintain controlled, rational, and equitable structures, and may be viewed by others as inscrutable, detached, and manipulative.

Leaders - maintain inner perceptiveness that they can use in their relationships with others, relate to people in intuitive, empathetic way, focus on what events and decisions mean to participants, attract strong feelings of identity and difference or of love and hate, and create systems where human relations may be turbulent, intense, and at times even disorganized.

The Self-Identity of managers versus leaders is strongly influenced by their past.

Managers - report that their adjustments to life have been straightforward and that their lives have been more or less peaceful since birth, have a sense of self as a guide to conduct and attitude which is derived from a feeling of being at home and in harmony with their environment, see themselves as conservators and regulators of an existing order of affairs with which they personally identify and from which they gain rewards, report that their role harmonizes with their ideals of responsibility and duty, perpetuate and strengthen existing institutions, and display a life development process which focuses on socialization. This socialization process prepares them to guide institutions and maintain the existing balance of social relations.

Leaders - reportedly have not had an easy time of it, their lives are marked by a continual struggle to find some sense of order, do not take things for granted and are not satisfied with the status quo, report that their sense of self is derived from a feeling of profound separateness, may work in organizations, but they never belong to them, report that their sense of self is independent of work roles, memberships, or other social indicators of social identity, seek opportunities for change (i.e. technological, political, or ideological), support change, find their purpose is to profoundly alter human, economic, and political relationships, and display a life development process which focuses on personal mastery. This process compels them to struggle for psychological and social change.

Development of Leadership

As you can see, managers and leaders are very different animals. It is important to remember that there are definite strengths and weaknesses in both types of individuals. Managers are very good at maintaining the status quo and adding stability and order to our culture. However, they may not be as good at instigating change and envisioning the future. On the other hand, leaders are very good at stirring people's emotions, raising their expectations, and taking them in new directions (both good and bad). However, like artists and other gifted people, leaders often suffer from neuroses and have a tendency toward self-absorption and preoccupation.

If you are planning on owning your own business, you must develop management skills, whether they come naturally or not. However, what do you do if you believe you are, in fact, a leader - a diamond in the rough? What can you do to develop as a leader? Throughout history, it has been shown again and again that leaders have needed strong one-on-one relationships with teachers whose strengths lie in cultivating talent in order to reach their full potential. If you think you are a leader at heart, find a teacher that you admire - someone who you can connect with and who can help you develop your natural talents and interests. Whether you reach glory status or not, you will grow in ways you never even imagined. Isn't that what life is about anyway?


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**The above content is provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information go to www.sba.gov.