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Leaders vs. Managers: Embracing the Distinction

Ah, the age-old confusion – the assumption that being a people manager automatically makes you a 'leader.' It's a recurring topic, but one that deserves revisiting, given the persistent misconceptions. There's nothing wrong with managing; we need strong managers. However, it's vital not to confuse management with leadership because they embody distinct qualities and characteristics.

So, let's have a bit of fun with a quick quiz to help you distinguish between managing and leading. For each of the 12 characteristics below, consider if you actively engage in these within your role. Feel free to jot down the numbers as you reflect.

  1. Relaying Information: I relay information from other senior members of our business to my team and discuss the work that requires our support.

  2. Meeting Kickoffs: I usually kick off my meetings and dedicate the initial portion to sharing administrative updates.

  3. Feedback Sessions: I provide my direct reports with feedback a few times a year, with an emphasis on what they should do differently next time.

  4. Goal Setting: I set goals for my team and delegate tasks and responsibilities among them.

  5. Resource Management: I play a crucial role in managing workload, resource allocation, and ensuring efficient task distribution.

  6. Risk Mitigation: I play a critical role in minimizing risks and maintaining the stability of daily operations.

  7. Innovation Encouragement: I provide my team with resources and space to develop new solutions.

  8. Relationship Building: I place a strong emphasis on building relationships both internally and externally to gain diverse perspectives.

  9. Fostering Innovation: I encourage innovation and creative thinking by allowing my team to try new ideas, learn from fast failures, and venture into paths of growth.

  10. Supporting Risk-Taking: I give my team space to take calculated risks and fully support their pursuit of new ideas.

  11. Fair Advocacy: I advocate for all team members impartially, without favoritism based on appearance or background.

  12. Objective Assessments: I have an objective assessment process that clarifies how my team will be evaluated for their performance.

Now, let's unravel the mystery: if you selected 1-6, you're in the managerial camp. If you chose 7-12, you're firmly in the leadership realm. If your selections span both, you're adept at managing and leading. The beauty lies in understanding when to apply each skill.

Managing involves the process of planning, organizing, and controlling resources, tasks, and people to achieve specific goals and objectives efficiently. It often includes responsibilities such as overseeing daily operations, allocating resources, setting and monitoring performance targets, and ensuring that tasks are completed in a structured and organized manner. Managers focus on maintaining order, optimizing processes, and meeting short-term goals.

Key skills: time management, resource allocation, planning and execution, delegation, risk management, problem-solving, performance evaluation

Leading involves the process of inspiring, guiding, and influencing individuals or a group toward a common vision or goal. It includes motivating and empowering people to contribute their best efforts and talents. Leaders set a compelling vision for the future, encourage innovation, build relationships, and emphasize long-term objectives. They prioritize collaboration, empathy, and creating a sense of direction and purpose within a team or organization. Leaders focus on fostering unity and a culture of growth and innovation.

Key skills: visionary thinking, emotional intelligence, collaboration, empowerment, innovation, motivation, adaptability, relationship building, communication

In summary, it's all about harnessing the right skills at the right time and balancing the art of managing and leading for greater success.

Challenge: Can you choose a leadership skill to enhance in the next 30 days and make it a central part of your daily routine? If you're uncertain about which area to prioritize, consider starting with 'empowerment'.

Empower your team members by providing them with the authority, autonomy, and resources to make decisions and take action within the organization. This also means entrusting them with the ability to shape their own career paths, influence their work environment, and drive positive change.

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