‘You must be the change that you wish to see in the world’
As I was trying to look up to different folks that I have known to be in positions of power, I realized that there is a difference between being a manager versus being a leader. My dad further clarified this by pointing out that - A manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. In a way they must go hand in hand but are not the same thing. Warren Bennis in his 1989 book ‘On becoming a leader’ has composed an exhaustive list of differences of which I have listed a few of my favorites:
- The manager administers; the leader innovates
- The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
- The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
- The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
My personal experience on being an employee as well as a leader has been that focusing on small things goes a long way towards making employees believe in what they do day in and day out with a sense of purpose. From stopping by the cubicle getting to know what’s going in their lives; taking them out for a lunch or a drink establishes a rapport that helps in understanding who they are and what is important to them at a rudimentary level in their work life. I am by no means suggesting that this compensates for traditional pay raises, bonuses or promotions. Given the cyclical economic conditions that we are perennially in, such things will help a great deal. I have come across some great managers, who don’t seem to have time for activities outside core work or they are socially awkward which stops them from being a true leader. One of my favorite quotes on this topic was from Herb Kelleher, the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest who wrote, ‘A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear’. Southwest recently celebrated an accomplishment of forty one consecutive years of profit.
I was at our India offices last year and a young manager who wanted to be promoted to lead a larger team accosted me, “I’ve been reading all about leadership, have implemented several ideas, and think I’m doing a good job at leading my team. How will I know when I’ve crossed over from being a manager to a leader?”
I didn’t have a ready answer and it’s a complicated issue, so we decided to talk the next day. I thought long and hard, and came up with three things that will help you decide if you’ve made the shift from managing people to leading them. I referred to Vineet Nayar’s, the former CEO of HCL, spot on perspective on this topic:
Measuring Goals vs. Adding Value. You’re probably measuring value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Only managers measure value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value. If a recruiter is asked to report every 1 hour how many folks he has hired, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting value.
By contrast, leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle issue 1 while I deal with issue 2.” Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership.
Circles of influence vs. Circles of power. Just as managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, managers create turfs while leaders create circles of influence.
The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.
Leading people vs. Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.
I encouraged my colleague to put this theory to the test by inviting his teammates for chats. When they stop discussing the tasks at hand — and talk about vision, purpose, and aspirations instead, that’s when you will know you have become a leader.
At RTS we strive to mentor and groom leaders on a daily basis and we’d like to hear how you view leadership?