Leaders vs. managers

Leadership as part of directing function of management

In the model used in the SNAPSIM system Leadership is one of the competencies in the Management group. Beside Leadership this group combines such competencies as Developing Corporate Culture, Managing Risks, Managing Diversity, Researching and mapping external environment” and others.

In this context, leadership is part of management. It is a competency like any other management competencies like “delegation”, “maintaining customer service” and “supporting virtual teams”.

It is presumed, that in the leadership roles your employees can use all other management skills: they should be able to solve problems, take optimal decisions, support training and development of their employees, manage conflict etc.

Leader or manager?

What’s the difference between leadership or management? The short answer is “emotions”. The main difference between managers and leaders is that latter rely more on emotional intellect. Managers use cognitive intelligence more often – this form of intelligence is more suited for analysis, evaluating risks and decisions. For leaders, emotional intelligence is often the main tool in their toolbox. However, it is hard to distinguish between emotional and general intelligence and they are not mutually exclusive.

In all stages of the Plan Do Check Act management cycle leaders use both form of intelligence and “switch” to the manager’s role if needed.

Leaders in the Plan Do Check Act cycle also consider other aspects - we can say that they follow the MVFC-Leadership model (Management-Vision-Followers-Culture.

Plan stage: budgeting and creating vision

When in the manager’s role you or your employees have one main task – to evaluate resources his/her unit possess and what can be done with these resources. Managers plan and develop budgets on this stage. They set goals – usually for the next month or year, define milestones and consider how to allocate available resources to make it in the most efficient way.

Employees in the leader’s role on this stage act differently. They “move” the planning horizon and consider more distant times than in the manager’s role. They take helicopter view and analyse different factors. Later leaders think what should be done for her team or company to gain additional competitive advantage. Leaders set new development course and envision the attractive image of the future and develop strategies needed to reach this image.

Act and do: implementing business processes and recruiting followers

When executing the plan, employees in the manager’s role focuses on organizational structures and business-processes as well as personnel who would work on certain positions. Managers design organizational structure, formalize roles, recruit qualified employees and set the control system.

For leaders on this stage it is far more important to form a team of competent and enthusiastic people, who truly believe in vision and who are ready to do everything to implement this vision. In other words, leaders create followers who share their visions, goals and values.

Control stage: solving problems and developing trust

On the last stage of managerial cycle managers focus on control, problem-solving and increasing efficiency. They work with discrepancies in planned and actual performance, set new plans and goals, taking into consideration what was already done.

For leaders, the most important thing on this stage is to keep their people motivated despite all difficulties they face. This motivation will allow team members to move forward. To maintain and develop motivation leaders create atmosphere of trust, openness and respect that will the best people who believe in better features and are ready to work on this goal.

Three main competences of a leader

After analysing the actions of managers and leaders on every stage of the managerial cycle we can highlight three main competencies of leaders, that can be considered as complimentary to the main managerial competencies:

  • ability to develop a vision, a desired state of a team or company,
  • ability to recruit followers, motivate, encourage and support team members,
  • ability to develop an atmosphere of trust, openness and respect.

Developing vision

Leadership requires context. Leaders understand goals in the future better than others. But followers think of this goal as their own only it became vision. Vision is the description of the future the leader and her/his followers plan to build together. People often have different opinions on possible direction of their unit or company. This leads to the decisions that are not sufficient or to the “analysis paralysis” – if there no clear rules and vision people don’t know what to do. Shared vision and objectives allow people to move faster in the future and tolerate present difficulties.

Recruiting followers, motivating, encouraging and supporting team members

Achieving any meaningful goals requires time and huge efforts. Managers always have restricted resources and they can’t always direct and push people. Leaders rely on internal needs and desires people have to motivate them. The motivated team members have better chances to achieve ambitious goals. Leaders motivate not only by promoting effectiveness but also by working together by team members and making them more effective.

Ability to create atmosphere of trust, openness and respect

Change is always hard. Any hard work means certain level of stress. But people can’t work in their full capacity if they feel frustrated or depressed. To balance these to extremes the leader should be able to create an atmosphere of trust, openness and respect. Openness helps team members to share their doubts and offer constructive solutions. Leaders have to form the culture of communication where people can be open about various work issues and collaborate effectively.

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