Monday, April 12, 2010

Manager versus leader

I was asked this morning can someone be a good leader without being a good manager or a good manager without being a good leader. I say yes! The next question is how do people learn to be good leaders? Is there a class you can take to learn this quality? Interesting questions.

The way I explain this is truly a Janicism thought as I do believe some people have the skills to be excellent managers, but they may never reach a status of a leader. I don't think you can be a great leader without having excellent management skills though.

Here is my Janicism View.

Management. There are two words within this word that I think describe this term. Manage and Man. Management is the ability to manage man (woman as well). If you can get a person to complete a task, grow a skill, or be successful at a project, you are good at "man" managing!

Leadership. There are 2 works within this term as well. Leader and Ship. It is less about an individual "man" view and more of a ship or a whole host of people and you lead them to success. There are very few ships of 1 crew and if you have more than 2 people you need to be a leader if the ship is going to go in the right direction. Two or more people paddling in opposite directions does not make well for a leader.

So there you go - you can manage a person, but you can lead a ship. So what characteristics do leaders have and how do they gain the skills to be a leader?

I know there are classes in leadership - accounting leadership, training leadership, management leadership, leadership in higher ed...the list goes on, but I there are skills of leaders that cannot be learned in a book, they must be in you.

I described this view as "paying attention" and I asked this future leader three questions.

1. Who on our team has 19 pairs of glasses that she wears to match her outfits?
2. Who on our team grew up on a farm and used a John Deere tractor to generate power growing up?
3. Who on our team just completed their PHD comprehensive exams?

This is what leadership is to me and it was fun to watch the lightbulb go on about paying attention. The questions weren't about how to bring a project from start to finish or how to make someone answer 30% more calls an hour, it was about knowing the people who are on your 'ship' and steering them personally and professionally in your direction.

Do you know of people you consider leaders? What makes them a leader? How about managers? Do you know people who are great managers? Can you see them moving to a leadership role? How about yourself? Are you a great manager or an inspirational leader?

Leadership is more than a title, it is a responsibility. You must want it, live it, and believe in the value of others. That my friends is what a great leader is.

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