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How Leaders and Managers Differ
Sean: Hey guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to the show! It’s your boy, Sean Si, and this is the Leadership Stack Podcast. For today, we have a comparison between what is a leader and what is a manager, and how do you differentiate between the two.
Sean: So let’s move on to the first difference and the main difference, and that is, a leader steps out of the comfort zone while the manager is working on status quo.
Sean: What does this mean? This means that leaders are mostly someone who gets out of their way and shakes things up, distracts people, make sure that things are happening, things are moving, makes sure that if there’s something new, we got to know what it is and if it’s something we can use, then we’ve got to get what it is and we’ve got to know how to use it.
Sean: Managers, on the other hand, they’re more of, “This is what works. These are the rules, let’s not break the processes that we have. Let’s stick to them. Let’s stick to the system that has been in place. They’re not broken. Why fix it?” Managers are all about the status quo. They make sure that things work as they are.
Sean: Now, before I move on to the other points, I just want you guys to notice first that all companies need both. All companies need leaders and all companies need managers. You cannot have a lack or an excess of any one of the two. You have to have leaders and managers.
Sean: Now, if you have leaders who are also managers and managers who are also leaders, that is the best case scenario you can ever have. So these are not mutually exclusive things. These are things that can both exist in one person and can be practiced by one special individual in your team.
Sean: Now that I have cleared that up, another difference between a leader and a manager would be: The leader focuses more on people and the manager focuses more on the numbers and the results.
Sean: Now again, going back to what I said, it could be one individual and that individual focuses both on people and the numbers and results. But as we have things in our world today, usually, you have one or the other, and that is why I’m splitting into two right now. But if you can be the same one person who focuses both on people and the results or KPIs, then that is the best case scenario.
Sean: So leaders focus on people. What that means is leaders invest in people. They ask people how they are. They treat people as individuals. They want to know when your birthday is, what you’re going to be doing then. They want to know who your parents are, what they do for a living. They want to know more about their people.
Sean: While managers are more focused on your output, on the numbers, on the KPI. Did we hit them? And if you didn’t, what can we do to help? How can you be able to hit that? Rather than the mushy side of the things they say.
Sean: Now, this doesn’t mean that if you’re more focused on people that you would disregard output and KPIs, because that’s going to make you a horrible person to work with, right? So as a leader, you focus on people, but you also have to know your numbers. This is why I say, the best case scenario is one person for both sides.
Sean: Another difference is the leader is usually a trailblazer and the manager is usually working around parameters and rules.
Sean: When I say trailblazer, they’re usually someone who likes to skirt around the rules or to break them altogether. “Oh, these are the rules. These are the parameters. What if we go out of bounds in this area and that area? What’s going to happen? Can we improve things that way? Can we test it out? Can we experiment?”
Sean: “If we make a mistake, then we learn from that. We evaluate that. It’s paid for by the company. If we don’t make a mistake, if this thing actually works, then we make a lot of money and we save a lot of money for the company.” Leaders usually think that way.
Sean: Managers usually think in a different way. They think, “These are the rules in the parameters, there’s a reason why they exist. Whether I know it or not doesn’t matter. They exist. So let’s follow them.
Sean: It’s like the experiment that certain scientists did way back, when they put a long pole in the middle of the room. There is a pile of bananas at the very top of that pole and there were ten monkeys in the room. When one monkey would start to climb up that pole, what they do is they blast that monkey with high pressure water.
Sean: And what happens is, of course, the monkey would tumble down and would be wet and the monkey wouldn’t like it. And after a short while, another monkey would try and attempt the same thing and that monkey would be blasted with water again.
Sean: And this happened until all ten of the monkeys have been blasted with water, and whenever any one of them would want to try an attempt again, the other nine monkeys would try to pull that one down. So one by one, they swap the monkeys out with a new monkey who has never attempted to go after the banana.
Sean: And when the new monkeys would try and climb up the pole, all the other monkeys who have experienced the flushing down of the water would pull the new monkey down. Until there were ten new monkeys in the room, and whenever any one of them would try to climb up that pole and get to the banana, they would pull each other down without even knowing why.
Sean: That is the picture of a manager who just follows rules and parameters. Sometimes, they don’t even know why they’re doing that. But those are the rules and they don’t want to get pulled down by other monkeys in the company, and so they follow.
Sean: Another difference between a leader and manager is the leader usually rallies people from the front, while the manager usually delegates orders from behind.
Sean: And the leader who rallies from the front, this is so important because people will see, are you practicing what you preach? Are you actually also working alongside us or ahead of us? What have you done for the organization that I should follow you and that you should earn my respect and my trust?
Sean: And leaders who rally people from the front, who lead from the front, who charge from the front, they gain a huge amount of influence to people who are called to follow them.
Sean: Managers who delegate and bark orders from behind usually find it difficult to get that same influence because people are thinking, “This guy or this lady is just telling me what to do, but they’re not lifting a finger to help me out. They’re just giving me more orders. They’re just giving me more things to work on and they’re just sitting there warming their butts.”
Sean: There’s a very big difference and there is a very big gap in terms of the respect and trust you earn when you rally people from the front versus from when you just delegate from behind.
Sean: There are people who will follow them because they are charging from the front. They are out there sacrificing themselves, making sure that they practice what they preach. They’re actually serving the rest of the team that they have been called to lead. People are influenced by them voluntarily and they are following that leader from the heart.
Sean: Another difference is the leader is usually futuristic. They’re looking at the tomorrow, they’re looking at the next week, the next month, the next year. What can happen? How can we improve? How can we be the best, the best version of who we are?
Sean: And those are sometimes scary things for the manager to see and imagine. The managers usually focus on the here and now. Now, there are managers who strategically plan for the next quarter, for the next year. That is a totally different thing, because there are meetings that are set aside for strategy, but the manager is usually focused on the here and now.
Sean: What can we do here and now to hit these numbers that were assigned to me? What can we do here and now to make things happen within these parameters and these rules? What can I do here and now to make things more efficient for my entire team, making sure that they’re all working and no one is in downtime right now?They’re not looking at the future. They’re not thinking about that. They’re just wanting to make their numbers and output right now.
Sean: And the main difference between a leader and manager is, the leader is someone who relies on influence, while the manager is someone who usually relies on their position, because they’re output based and not people based. A lot of their very own people do not trust them or do not give them the respect they should have, so they rely on their position to make sure that things move and that they are able to push things forward and push people around as well.
Sean: I hope that this episode has been able to enlighten you between the differences of a leader and a manager. Again, they’re not mutually exclusive. Both attributes can co-exist in one person and that’s going to be the best case scenario. Unfortunately, for our world today, they rarely do.
Sean: And I hope that this has helped you out. And if it has added value to you, please do help share it with a friend or a colleague or a family member. And if you’re on YouTube, please do hit that subscribe button, that like button and the bell notification icon, so you can be alerted whenever we have something new.
Sean: And if you’re on Spotify and tuned in, maybe you’re exercising, driving, taking a shower, please do hit that follow button right after. Again, this is your boy, Sean Si, your host of the Leadership Stack Podcast, and I hope to see you on the next episode. Take care.