Leader or Manager?

I am a very lucky person. I have people all around me who care so much about me that they try to protect me and don’t want to hurt my feelings. As a result, sometimes I don’t get the cold hard truth that I require. Don’t worry, there’s always someone who comes along and gives me the shake-up I need!

I’m not saying that I change direction when someone speaks up but it does make me pause for a minute and evaluate what I’m doing. It’s good that I have the ability to recognize the challenge, evaluate the situation and move on. I will either adjust my course based on the new information, try to get more proof or clarification or continue forward with more conviction that it is the right thing to do. If I move forward with conviction, it is because I have taken a second look and checked my options again.

I know many people who refuse (or don’t appreciate) the input and continue full steam ahead. Those people usually fall victim to the “I told you so” follow up. Incidentally these are also the people who speak more and listen less and are least willing to hear arguments to their cause.

The funny thing is that sometimes the splash of cold water comes from someone or something that has virtually no relation to me. Last week it came to me by way of an article I read on a website. I’m sorry I can’t find the trail to it at the moment. The article was about being a leader vs. being a good manager. I have been calling myself a leader for some time now based on the following:

  • Set a consistent example of the environment I want to be in. I take Ghandi’s words to heart “be the change you want to see in the world”.
  • Set strategic directions and guide the execution of them.
  • My ability to garner support from all levels of the organization.
  • I’ve worked my way steadily through the ranks and always seem to lead the pack.

I thought, perhaps mistakenly that being a leader was better than just being a good manager. The article I was reading extolled the virtues of good management such as:

  • Managers make the strategy work. They come up with the roadmap.
  • Managers do the dirty work – discipline, process creation, monitoring, reporting.
  • Managers must motivate the team – be personable but tough – to make sure the job gets done.

Clearly, one is not better than the other and each has talents and capacities that are required in life and in business. So, knowing my skills and personal attributes I am left questioning what I really am; So far I’m thinking “kick butt manager with the ability to lead” and I’m feeling rather empowered to know that my capacities for both make me a pretty mighty Being.

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