The Fine Line Between Leadership And Management

Leader, as defined by Webster, is a person who leads, such as someone in authority whereas leadership is the actual act of leading. Often, we automatically think that only managers/supervisors are leaders however that is not the case.

Learn the difference between managing and leading

Photo by Simon Matzinger

Leaders can be found anywhere. They are that person setting an example for others, motivating them to be the best person that they can be, they could be that mean girl in school that has others following her to be part of the popular crowd or it could be that person at work that is always willing to teach others how to do things without question.

Obviously, someone who is setting examples for others and doing the right thing is thought of as a good leader since they are leading by their example. However, does that automatically make them a good manager? Not necessarily….

To be an effective manager, you need to have a specific set of skills. The person that is motivating others to be the best person that they can be has one of those skills, so they have a good start but while it is important to be able to motivate there is a lot more to it than that.

An effective manager needs several things to be considered a good manager, here are just a few examples:

  • Ability to teach and mentor others
  • Adaptability to different learning and personality styles
  • Able to challenge the team to find their own solutions
  • Sees talent that they can’t see themselves and inspire them to bring it out
  • Be selfless and give credit where due versus taking full credit for team efforts
  • Able to turn negatives into positives
  • Passionate and loyal

In considering a bad leader that would make an even worse manager, think of that mean girl. In the movie Mean Girls, Regina George was the leader of the “plastics”. She was considered to be popular and knew that she could use manipulation and deceit to make people follow her as their leader. She brought others down to bring herself up. Ineffective managers use these same tactics in managing their team. Instead of working with them toward solutions, they micromanage and build on the negative.

Ultimately, the results are detrimental to the team and/or company because they end up losing valuable resources. A bad leader and/or a bad manager can bring down the morale and productivity of an entire team. The effectiveness of the team is affected by that one bad apple.

The assumption that if you led the company in sales or had the highest batting average on the baseball team that you can teach or coach those skills is often not the case. Just because that person has those skills does not mean that they can automatically teach them. It takes a mentoring and teaching mentality to be able to train and lead to succeed. Often companies don’t look at both sides of the coin and it leads to the failure of the team and loss of good people because of a bad manager.

Leadership is a multi-faceted, complicated term that could encompass many scenarios. Managers are not always good leaders and leaders are not always good managers. There is a fine line between the two that a manager must find a balance.

Managing and Leading are two totally different things however a good manager must be able to do both well to keep employees happy and engaged.

This was a guest article by Kelly Bolhofner. Kelly has spent over twenty years in Marketing and Sales Management, most recently working for a Fortune 50 company. She graduated Cum Laude in 2017 from Maryville University with a BS in Marketing. In her many years in sales and marketing, she has held numerous positions, mentored hundreds of successful salespeople, designed and implemented process improvements that led to more productive and successful sales team and has built a strong network of relationships with her customers which has been the driving force for her success. She is now sharing that knowledge and experience with others through content marketing, LinkedIn posts, guest blogs and consulting engagements so that they too can be more effective Salespeople, Managers, and Leaders.

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