Are You a Leader or a Manager?

If you look through your Google+ stream, you will find lots of articles about time management, better social media usage for your company, cool tech toys, being a better person, writing, and a plethora of other things. For reasons unknown to me, I don’t seem to have a lot of “motivational” content for people in the workforce. As Google+ public memberships increase, the amount of “non-creative” job workers will increase and eventually outweigh the number of creatives and geeks using Google+. We need to welcome those people with open arms and embrace the expansion of the network.

Back to the Topic

The reason I am disappointed that I haven’t yet seen a lot of motivational information to managers and leaders is that it is something everyone in the workforce needs to be constantly reminded of. In a lot of the training for my current job, we were reminded not just to manage our team, but to lead them.

What is the difference between management and leadership?

Managing is delegating things that need to be done — “throwing things” in subordinates’ laps and monitoring everyone’s progress. It also includes giving “progressive discipline”, if necessary, and having regularly scheduled “career advancement” conversations. A lot of what goes into being a manager is necessary, effective, and allows you to check everything off of the proverbial checklist of things to do while “managing” your team. But there is another way that you can accomplish all of your “mandatory” tasks while leading your team forward.

Leadership is the ability to empower and inspire your team to do great things, to innovate, and to add value to the company or the product you sell. As a leader, you are able to accomplish all of the things mentioned above that a manager is required to do, but in a manner that fosters creativity, positive two-way communication, and better understanding between you and your team.

To me, a manager would invite an employee into his office, sit him down, and hand him a progressive discipline worksheet after he had performed poorly over a period of time or repeatedly made the same mistake. The manager would have a short one-sided discussion and ask the employee to sign the form.

A leader, though, should notice this behavior or mistake the first or second time that it happens. A leader should coach and counsel the employee to ensure that he has all of the tools and training needed to execute his tasks, as well as to find what avenues of assistance are available to help the team member execute his tasks efficiently and superbly. A leader should inspire his team to collaborate, to work together, to work better, to work more efficiently, and to leave their customers with a better impression of how well the team functions.

By discovering your team’s strengths and allocating projects to them accordingly, the team will be doing work they enjoy and thereby appreciate work more.

When your team, through good leadership, is enjoying their tasks — enjoying being empowered and inspired to innovate — their efficiency will improve, and the team will be left with more time to celebrate their success and will leave the office at a reasonable time. Through effective leadership, you can have a positive work-life balance, and I am glad to be working for a team of leaders that allow me to do the same.

So which are you: a manager or a leader?

Do you have any tips on becoming a better leader? Do you have an example of how someone inspired you to do better?

Leave your comments below and feel free to share this post with anyone you think it might inspire! Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing. :)

Special thanks to +Carter Gibson and +Ryan Crowe for inspiring me to write this post.

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Author:Peter McDermott

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