Which Is Better: A Manager or a Leader?

It’s time to do away with the archaic manager vs. leader dichotomy! The comparison was developed in a time where we didn’t really understand what leadership was. A time when bosses were autocratic, and people worked more to provide for their family and less for personal fulfillment. Now we get it. We understand the concepts of management and leadership. Staying in this mindset is limiting. It causes people to say things like, “I’m a manager. I don’t need to be a leader,” or, “Since I’m a leader, I shouldn’t be doing these management pieces.” It’s time to move our thoughts away from a discrete manager/leader model to a management spectrum and leadership spectrum.

Everyone has some level of management skills and some level of leadership skills. It’s a matter of where you fall on the spectrum.

These can be broken down to individual traits and how well a person does each one of them. For leadership, where do you fall on the communication spectrum? The empathy spectrum? For management, where do you fall on the scheduling spectrum? The organization spectrum? Each individual trait makes up the overall category (leadership or management).

Once we understand where we are on the spectrum and where each individual on our team is on the spectrum, we can focus on doing activities that leverage each person’s strengths. Understanding your skill base and others’ skill base allows you to effectively delegate so each person gets maximum output for their effort. Focus on assigning people to do the activities that gain the highest ROI for the company. An added benefit: if people are good at an activity, they usually enjoy that activity, so you will be increasing employee engagement at the same time!

So which is best? Being a manager or being a leader? Neither. You need to be both. Those who operate in one function will not be effective. Success goes to those who operate in both spectrums.

Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and the author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings, she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.

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