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So what’s the difference?
The following definitions are a good starting point:
The Manager: The manager is responsible for activities such as planning, budgeting, organising and coordinating tasks and activities within and across the organisation. Managers also manage the performance of others, ensuring people achieve goals and results. The way they do this depends on the nature of the work being done.
The Leader: The leader is more externally focused. Leaders search for order in the uncertainty and unpredictability of change and progress, and in that order see opportunities. They communicate those opportunities and in doing so, ensure that the organisation changes and readies itself to take advantage of the opportunities. This can create uncertainty within the organisation. Leaders absorb this uncertainty by listening and reacting to what people are feeling and saying. They communicate with compassion, showing respect and understanding. In doing this, they set and communicate directions. Their actions articulate the culture and values of the organisation. Therefore, one without the other is insufficient. Strong leadership without management leads to chaos; management without leadership breeds bureaucracy.
The following are typical examples of the expectations a company might have of its leaders:
Leaders are responsible for creating long-term values. They manage the finances of the business. This requires a mindset that looks beyond shorter-term revenue and profit gains to the ongoing financial development of the company. Leaders know the markets and industries in which the company does business, and how it does business in those markets and industries. Leaders can observe and interpret their environment — both internal and external — and identify business opportunities. This involves looking for, and being sensitive to, patterns and relationships between apparently unconnected events, as well as continually looking for new and different interpretations. The ability to do these things generates opportunities. Leaders will identify and partner with the right customers — those who contribute to the company’s long-term growth — and commit to the highest levels of satisfaction among those customers. Identifying the right customers is about being able to foresee long-term partnerships that are profitable.
Leaders must plan how to conduct their business, considering factors such as the impact on company finances, how the company appears to customers, and implications for resources and knowledge management. Leaders model the company’s value. For example, a company with a branch structure may be built around the idea of shared resources — knowledge, best practices, customer and market information would be critical. Leaders can make this happen. Leaders can align individual development goals with the development and learning needs of the company. They should cultivate a learning culture, which encourages the company’s people to keep up to date professionally and in terms of their knowledge of the company’s business.
Following are some of the qualities employees appreciate (though not necessarily expect) in their leaders: trustworthiness, fairness, unassuming, listening skills, openminded and broadminded, sensitive to people, taking initiatives, decision-making capabilities.
THE THIN LINE
At the same time, qualities that led to success earlier may be the very ones that hinder success later. Brilliance, for example, can be intimidating to others, or can contribute to poor listening skills. Over-commitment can lead to a loss of perspective and burnout. Analytical thinking can lead to “analysis paralysis” and indecisiveness. Integrity can be perceived as zealotry or rigidity. Results and action orientation can be perceived as recklessness and being dictatorial. Being good with people can lead to softness and an inability to make tough people-related decisions. Innovation can lead to spending too much time and money on unrealistic or impractical projects and ideas. And customer focus can undermine innovative thinking, can blur the focus on cost control and can lead to making unrealistic commitments.
Courtesy: Hewitt Quarterly Asia Pacific.