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Are You a Leader? A Manager? Or Both?

There are many articles, white papers and other information on how a manager is different than a leader. And many theories on whether someone can effectively be in both roles. Certainly there are many definitions of what a leader or manager is; but for the purposes of this brief article, let’s define leaders and managers in this way:

Leader: An individual who can see the big picture; sets the vision and mission and can get others to see and respond to that vision. An individual who can set strategy for an entire division, business unit, region or the organization as a whole.  Leaders tend to be more involved in the oversight of the business overall in order to achieve long term strategic goals.

Manager: An individual can communicate a vision to others and can implement to a vision.  Someone who develops an operational or tactical plan for a department, division or workgroup to achieve the goals of an overall strategic plan. Managers tend to be more involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Someone who is a good manager may not necessarily ever be a good leader. The skills required in management are vastly different than the skills needed to be a leader. In my work with clients I have seen some fantastic managers who don’t have what it takes to be a leader but what they can achieve for the organization due to their management (and particularly people management) skills is amazing. Frankly, I have also seen individuals who have the ability to “see the future” but are completely unable to achieve (on their own) what they need to in order to reach their goals – they need someone who is more “hands on” and tactical in order to set a plan to get there.

There are individuals who have both the skills of a leader and those of a manager and can, frankly, perform each role quite well. However, I often wonder if you can’t really excel at either if you are good at both? For those individuals who have both sets of skills, I often find that they take on much more to accomplish then, for example, someone who is in one role or the other. Thus I wonder if you are fulfilling both roles, can you truly concentrate in one or the other – or do you tend to take on too much and therefore cannot fully focus?

Your thoughts? Are you a leader? A manager? Or both? And if both, how do you manage to perform both roles effectively?