Are you a Leader or a Manager?

???Guest blog from my good friend Charles Helliwell.

Too many people still confuse strong leadership with good management and vice versa. So I thought I would provide some simple and straightforward examples of both to enable individuals to determine their own individual preferences.

There are many and varied distinctions between leadership and management; too many to mention. The most successful executives are those who understand those distinctions and manage to blend them in such a way to suit their own characters and personalities. Rather than list and debate the numerous and varied definitions of each, I???ve taken four which I believe are the key ingredients to successful management.

??? Leaders focus on people, whilst managers focus on systems.
??? Leaders do the right thing, whilst managers do things right.
??? Leaders inspire trust, whilst managers rely on controls.
??? Leaders originate, whilst managers imitate.

So, are you a good manager; an inspirational leader or a little bit of both ? We can all cite examples of strong leaders, but how many of us can do the same for good managers?

Leaders and managers don’t necessarily come out of the same bucket, and yet in business and commerce it is often taken for granted that good leaders and strong managers are one and the same.

Did Alexander The Great develop and execute successful military campaigns which are still considered mandatory reading by the military strategists of today, by concentrating on systems, imitating others and doing things right? Did Ernest Shackleton give considered thought to his chances of survival in sailing 800 miles in an open boat in the Southern Ocean, from Elephant Island to South Georgia?

In 1945, Winston Churchill was beaten comprehensively by Clement Atlee in the UK general election because the country wanted a strong manager, not an inspirational leader. And what was it that drove Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to pursue similar goals which, at the time, were deemed impossible to achieve?

If these men are considered amongst the greatest leaders of our time, then what makes them so and do they also qualify as good managers? I suspect that the answer is probably not, because inspiration and originality and organisation and planning are strange bedfellows.

For example, Alexander’s legacy was not the longevity of his empire he created, but the cultural influences which remain to this day as a result of his conquests. It is extremely doubtful that he actually planned for this. If Ernest Shackleton had been a better planner and organiser, would the Endurance have been crushed in the ice and the survivors stranded; prompting his heroic rescue? Probably not.

Had Winston Churchill, an inspirational but disorganised leader, not replaced Neville Chamberlain, a capable manager and skilled organiser, at the start of the World War II, would Britain have been defeated by Germany?

And what of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela? Did either of them conclude that campaigns of violence and terrorism would have been less successful than the campaigns of non-cooperation and non-violence they opted for? And was this inspired and original thinking, executed with organisation and planning, or was this just a case of doing the right thing at the right time?

The answer, I suspect, is that it is a little bit of both. Being a good leader isn’t something that you take out of a textbook or a training manual. Becoming a good leader, in whatever circumstances, is ingrained within us, should we choose to look for it and release it. It’s just that, more often than not, ourmasters would prefer us to act more as capable managers than inspirational leaders, because leaders are apt to behave in a less predictable manner than managers.

Managers, after all, are there to manage. They are the captains; It???s their job to get you from A to B, safely and securely, which is why perhaps that it???s ofteneasier to recognise, assess and evaluate those who manage versus those who lead. As Paul Birch, in his book ‘Instant Leadership’ suggests, managers concern themselves with tangible tasks, whilst leaders concern themselves withintangible people.

And yet, as we enter yet more turbulent and uncertain times, history will again prove that people everywhere will look towards those who lead, as opposed to those who manage, for their own inspiration.

?? Charles Helliwell & Business Personality Audits 2010

5 thoughts on “Are you a Leader or a Manager?

  1. I think you’ve just nailed why two years ago self-employed was pretty much the only option I could take. Now I just have to grow the business enough so that I can employ better managers around me 😉

  2. Question: were you always the "Leader" as Jobsite started off as a family start-up, or is that something that evolved – or indeed perhaps just a misconception on my part from your more public persona?

  3. Good question Alex. Jobsite was an offshoot of our ISP business (Pinnacle) which I was running whilst Graham and Karen were supporting this by working in their original IT contracting capacity. In 1995 we came up with the idea of Jobsite which was headed up by Eric and his wife in a portacabin in their garden. It wasn’t until 1999 when I stepped into the MD role at Jobsite and left my MD role at Pinnacle. We later sold Pinnacle to focus more on Jobsite.

  4. you a politician as well? 😉 would it be un-politik to consider yourself the "Leader Potts" then 🙂

  5. I’m the little brother Alex and I value my nuts when I’m round my Mum/Dads having sunday roast with all the others 🙂

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