Think of your boss or your colleague, or any prominent businessperson, would you describe them as being a leader, a manager, or perhaps even as both?
The chances are that you wouldn’t use both terms to describe them. This is because we often picture the characteristics and behaviour of leaders and managers differently, or believe that being a leader would supersede being a manager.
What does this mean? People often think of leaders as being visionary, charismatic types that perhaps even resemble something of a ‘lone-wolf. Leaders are constantly thinking about the bigger picture and strive to incorporate their strategic vision within a company. They are generally well-liked even if their actions can at times be disruptive – leaders aren’t afraid to make radical changes to an organisation. They are admired for their stature and nature, and can effortlessly command influence. A key element of being a leader is that other people have to consider that person to be one, it is not a job title. Likewise, if a leader exhibits too many negative behaviours or actions, their status as a leader can diminish in the eyes of others.
The word leader has overwhelmingly positive connotations, and leaders are often viewed separately from managers. Does that then mean managerial qualities are entirely secondary to leadership ones? The answer to that, in short, is no.
A manager is normally in charge of overseeing an organisation’s human capital, its workforce, in day-to-day operations. Their actions are often less glamorous than that of leaders, precisely because they are less focused on radical, headline-making change, but ultimately important to the company’s overall mission and productivity. A good manager has to be able to effectively manage and strive to train and improve their employees. If a leader has implemented a change in company culture, it is often up to the manager to oversee this change and ensure that it succeeds. They need to be strong people persons, whereas a leader is often able to instruct from a distance.
These are the characteristics of a good manager, but whilst being a leader is seen as exclusively positive, the term ‘manager’ can harbour negative connotations. People complain that organisations are bloated and can have too many managers, and managers lacking empathy and patience will often be poorly viewed by their employees, negatively affecting company synergy.
In short, in business, there are mainly ‘good’ leaders, but there are a mixture of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ managers, if a leader stops being good they often cease to be seen as leaders by others.
That said, leadership and managerial characteristics can complement each other well. Mastering large-scale strategic planning and day-to-day operations would benefit any organisation, as would learning the charismatic qualities to influence and command respect, and also being able to manage and positively interact with employees at all levels.
With this in mind, at LSB we have developed a programme that combines teaching and expertise of both Mastering Leadership and Management so that our students can become well-rounded professionals, able to confidently lead and manage change and operations within an organisation.