‘The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers’. Ralph Nader

The list below (taken from personal experience and diverse sources) makes a difference between the essence of a leader and that of a manager. We often convolute these roles expecting leaders to be managers and managers to be leaders. Now it must be noted that ideally every leader needs a certain dose of management skills and that every manager needs a certain dose of leadership.

I think it is accurate to talk about it as management skills and simply leadership (not leadership skills). Leadership is a whole other matter as the list below demonstrates. One is more about calculation and order, the other is more about passion and vision. One is primarily about procedure, the other is primarily about connection. Often times the system prefers the manager as he or she is more predictable and therefore controllable. Therefore managers tend to be promoted more easily as they have a very important characteristic for promotion: compliance.

The biggest problem with leadership is how recent changes in society (dating back perhaps to the time of Machiavelli) has created a “glorification” around leadership. It has made leadership into a “type”. It has made leadership an act – an act that revolves around the leader. It has ultimately turned it into a disingenuous charade. If there is one thing to say to those in positions of leadership it is the following: just be yourself, everyone else is taken (Oscar Wilde). Authenticity is everything. There is no need for an introvert to act like an extrovert, or for a feeler to act like a thinker (reference to Myers-Briggs). There is no need to read a book on leadership and then start to act like that person. The acting part is what has made leadership in our present age degrade so strongly. People lead differently and that is good, as we are all so different. The function of leadership can take many forms – the most important thing is the desire to make those around you better, smarter, and more successful… every single day.

Management vs. Leadership

One will quickly notice how convoluted these terms are in contemporary culture:

The manager focuses on things, the leader focuses on people

The manager does things right, the leader does the right things

The manager plans, the leader inspires

The manager directs, the leader motivates

The manager controls, the leader builds

The manager follows the rules, the leader bends the rules

The manager thinks execution, the leader thinks ideas

The manager is comfortable with control, the leader welcomes risk

For the manager, procedure is king, for the leader, substance is king.

The manager rolls his eyes at ‘emotional intelligence’, the leader is guided by it.

When you talk to a manager, you get the feeling that they are important, when you talk to a leader you get the feeling that you are important.

Managers can maintain direction, but they can’t change it.