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Know the Difference Between Leading and Managing Smartmanager.com

You have probably heard these terms used interchangeably. If you also believe leading equals managing, you may be surprised to learn that there are important differences. Actually, from a personality and technique standpoint, you could make a solid case for leading and managing being polar opposites.

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Why the Terms "Leading" and "Managing" Are Not Interchangeable

You have probably heard these terms used interchangeably. If you also believe leading equals managing, you may be surprised to learn that there are important differences. Actually, from a personality and technique standpoint, you could make a solid case for leading and managing being polar opposites.

Many acknowledged leaders believe they are also good managers. Likewise, many successful managers also believe they are wonderful leaders. Please don’t misunderstand, as both leaders and managers can achieve equal success. Managers often lead just as leaders often manage. However, the personalities and methods used to achieve goals are often quite different.

While it is possible for both types to be successful, it is almost impossible for people to practice both techniques at the same time. Should you wish to try, a touch of schizophrenia would be a useful asset. For most of us, it would be a difficult task.

There are many real-world examples outside the world of business and management. For example, consider the high school or college student taking five courses. In three of the subjects, the student excels, but seemingly cannot perform well in the other two. Or, think about the professional baseball player with a heretofore “modest” career who is traded to another team and mysteriously becomes a star. Usually, the answer is that the student or player is still the same person, but their personality, philosophy, and interactions improve or decline based on the situation in which they function.

These differences in personal “style” indicate why the terms leading and managing should not be used interchangeably. Consider learning which type you are to help you maximize your management and professional opportunities. Also, by understanding the components of these styles, you may perform and interact better with your peers and superiors, once you learn about their categories.

How do we perform a study to learn our own style and separate the managers from the leaders in our workplace? Here are some important differences and comparisons that should help you both identify your inherent style and those of your co-workers.

How to Recognize the Difference Between Leaders and Managers

Personality Styles:

Managers tend to be rational, under control problem solvers. They often focus on goals, structures, personnel, and availability of resources. Managers’ personalities lean toward persistence, strong will, analysis, and intelligence.

Conversely, leaders are often called brilliant and mercurial, with great charisma. Yet, they are also often seen as loners and private people. They are comfortable taking risks – sometimes seemingly wild and crazy risks. Almost all leaders have high levels of imagination, creativity, and great passion.

Beliefs About Work and Jobs:

Managers usually create strategies, policies, and methods to create teams and ideas that combine to operate smoothly. They empower people by soliciting their views, values, and principles. They tend to believe that this combination reduces inherent risk and generates success.

Leaders simply look at problems and devise new, creative solutions. Using their charisma and commitment, they excite, motivate, and focus others to solve problems and excel.

Views and Perceptions of Goals:

Managers tend to pursue goals impersonally and methodically to achieve success with a minimum of outward emotion or risk-taking.

Leaders act (not react) on their ideas and create active, sometimes risky solutions to achieve goals. They use their passion to frame the thinking of others, causing many to support and adopt the leader’s theories.

Environmental Background:

Many managers polled speak of order, peace, and harmony in their early lives. A common response involves talking about a sense of order in their lives, their environment, and their projected future. With their strong sense of duty and responsibility, they tend to favor socialization and teamwork to achieve success.

Leaders, conversely, often speak of turmoil and chaos in their early lives. They regularly report that they’ve consistently tried to find a sense of order in their environment – often a futile pursuit. Many have a strong feeling of “separation,” allowing them to work in groups and teams, but seldom becoming a part of them.

As you can see, the techniques of leaders and managers are very different. You are now aware how difficult it is for most people to function as both. Employment conditions often allow one type to wildly succeed while the other shows more modest achievement.

Learning how your personality and methods fit your primary style combined with understanding the basic categories of those you work with and for should give you a road map for using your style to succeed in different corporate cultures.

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Copyright 2009, Kelly Services, Inc.