There are tons of topics and ideas where people feel confused. For some of us it’s financing. For others, it’s stocks. Some people get confused with sports. Not everyone understands why or how football works the way it does. In fact, nearly all of us use English words incorrectly every day. Simply put, we often take knowledge for-granted. In addition, if you hold a management or leadership title, it’s possible that you might not realize the difference. Being a leader and being a manager is not the same thing. Not by a longshot.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela are just a few examples of true leaders. They literally inspired thousands of people to do things through their leadership. In fact, these leaders didn’t even meet or see most of the people they led. Despite great odds, impossible challenges, and even very real threats of violence, their “teams” did everything they could to be successful with the cause. You should strive to develop the same kind of passion in your team.
Different Forms of Leadership
There are 2 different forms of leaders - formal and informal. A formal leader is someone who has been given a title that by definition requires that people follow you. An informal leader is someone who exhibits leadership traits and behavior. People don’t follow informal leaders because they have to – they do it because they WANT to. They respect you because of the things you know, do, and say. It is completely possible to be both, but it requires consistent hard work on your part.
Leading vs. Managing
Managing people and leading people have distinct characteristics as well. It’s not who you are, but what you do (or don’t do). Managing people involves having a team of people, managing their schedule, planning for their tasks, and following up to ensure that those tasks have been completed correctly. More importantly, as a manager, you’re more than likely getting very involved in the details. You’re making direct decisions on not only when someone does something, but how it gets done. As a manager, you’ll feel that this is a very necessary thing. In reality, no matter how sincere the intention is, this is micromanagement. There’s a place for managers, and that’s okay. But moving to the next level for yourself, the team, and the company, requires that you become a leader instead of a manager at some point.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
George S. Patton
United States Army General
A leader might have some of the same responsibilities. However, they do this in a very different way. A leader realizes a very key factor when leading people… They hired the members of their team as a result of the talent and expertise they’ve accumulated over time. A great leader only surrounds themselves with A players. They’re not only are capable of doing the job, but they’re capable of potentially doing the job even better than you are. The key here is that a leader will realize this and empower their team to do a great job. They know that the result will be great, but they’re also okay with the fact that the job might be done differently than if they were doing it. And that’s okay.
My favorite part in leading people this way is two-fold. First, I get excited when I see how creative people can be when properly empowered. Second, people are not dumb. It’s amazing to see what they are capable of the next time. Their passion for doing a great job will only grow because they realize the difference in leading vs. managing better than anyone.
Which Are You?
I’ve known too many leaders to count at this point – both good and bad, managers and leaders, inspiring and infuriating. A great leader doesn’t make excuses for why they’re doing something a certain way, a manager does. Using the phrase, “it’s my leadership style,” is nothing more than a copout for wanting to be manager when you should be a leader. Managing is like being the rails on a bowling lane. Be a leader instead. Inspire your team to greatness! Raising up each member of your team through leadership is the best thing you could ever have on your resume, ever.
This article is cross-posted from my personal blog.