Every Leader is a Manager But Not Every Manager is a Leader

By Patrizia Bittencourt and originally published on cuidadoria.com. 

The distinction between leadership and management is fundamental and has often been a topic of discussion in management theories and organizational environments.

We at Cuidadoria in Brazil come across a lot of confusion in our work regarding the terms management and leadership. Some claim that they are the same skills, almost like a belief that they refer to the same activity. Others understand the difference without delving into the specifics of each one.

It is very common for a person to be placed in a leadership role on the basis of their technical abilities. Often, they have difficulties delegating, mentoring, facilitating, communicating and making decisions because they focus on delivering results at the expense of the people in the team. It is also common for an inspiring leader to surround themselves with capable managers because they do not have great management skills.

A leader, first of all, recognizes themselves as a leader before effectively becoming one. Let’s say that within a manager there is a leader, or a potential leader. Equally there is not always a manager in a leader, but there is a potential manager. Both have the power of leadership and management and both can improve their skills. This is why we find many manager-leaders and also leader-managers in companies. Both leaders and managers are recognized as such and in the way they conduct their work.

Some insights can show us that there are relevant differences to discuss and broaden our perception of these skills.

Vision & Execution

Leaders establish a clear and inspiring vision for themselves, the organization and teams. Leaders continually express their intention with each new objective, and their action is based on their and the organization’s values, defining and inspiring others. The manager has in-depth knowledge of structures and systems, and they have a more tactical role as they focus on the daily execution of tasks and processes; they ensure that goals are achieved efficiently.

People & Tasks

Managers organize, plan and control resources to achieve the organization’s objectives and strategies. Leaders focus on relationships; they develop teams; they promote the growth of people and the organization. They pay attention to the climate and engagement, and they motivate employees.

Innovation vs Stability

Leadership is often associated with innovation, adaptation and change. Leaders seek new approaches, ideas and tools. Management tends to maintain stability and consistency, as managers ensure that existing processes are followed.

Inspire vs Direct

Managers have the ability to direct and supervise effectively, are attentive, provide guidance, monitor performance according to schedules and deliveries. Leaders host and influence others. They are present, set a positive example and motivate employees.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term

Leaders generally have a long-term perspective and focus on long-term goals; they synchronize people’s needs with business needs and pay attention to strategy. The manager’s characteristic is to deal with short-term issues and ensure that daily operations work and flow in accordance with business objectives and strategies.

Adaptive Skills & Technical Skills

Leaders are generally recognized for their adaptive and interpersonal skills, such as empathy, communication and inspiration, crucial for effective leadership. Managers often have strong technical skills, such as organization, planning and analysis, which are essential for effective management.

Culture & Processes

Leaders shape organizational culture and values; they make decisions based on values and set the tone for the work environment. Managers characteristically focus on creating and improving efficient processes to achieve objectives; they make decisions based on the organization’s strategies and needs.

Facilitative Leadership

We believe that the leadership needed in our time is host leadership, whether from a leader or a manager: facilitating leadership that mobilizes people in an engaged, inspired and productive way.

That’s why there is a caveat: it’s not about saying that being a leader is better or worse than being a manager, or vice versa. It is not necessary to make a value judgment, but to raise points of perception about the differences and complementarities between the two and perhaps arrive at this role in contemporary leadership that combines these two skills, which is that of the facilitating leader.

We assume that leadership is a human skill that can be improved and developed throughout life. And this premise leads us to consider that we all have the characteristics of four phases of leader development and that they coexist within us. These are the:

  • Doer leader
  • Hero leader
  • Mentor leader
  • Facilitator leader

Therefore, there is a clear path towards facilitative leadership that develops with attitudes and skills related to the level of motivation, self-knowledge, self-leadership, self-control, preparation and knowledge. It is the leader’s path to become a facilitating leader and it is also a manager’s path to become a facilitating leader.

In systems based on Self-Management, for example, we are all leaders, regardless of power or position. It is considered that everyone has power and does not need to be “empowered” by a hierarchical position. Everyone works as a sensor in the organization. No matter what you do, you have the freedom to act and speak out on behalf of the organization’s values, goals and strategies. You also have the freedom and responsibility to point out needs, opportunities, risks and challenges that you see in the environment. This is a radical idea and has worked best depending on the level of organizational maturity of people and the culture of the organization.

Self-management exists because we are not all heroines and heroes. Leaders and managers are not heroes. They often overload themselves with activities and responsibilities. But today we realize that the facilitating leader, based on self-knowledge, is able to mobilize, delegate, give autonomy and distribute power, navigating very well in both universes, that of management and that of leadership.

As a guardian of values focused on people and relationships, the facilitating leader is, at the same time, attentive to processes and deliveries. He knows that he doesn’t have all the answers and that he can’t do everything alone. He knows people to the point of knowing how to share part of his authority, giving people autonomy, creating a collaborative spirit in the groups he navigates.

For example, in an implementation, at the beginning of a company’s activities, what role can make a difference? A leader or a manager? In a later phase, of growth and stabilization of processes, what is the fundamental role? What would these phases of the company be like, a priori, with facilitating leaders?

Motivated leaders pay attention to engagement because they know that this is the most critical part of management, even more so in uncertain times. This ability of leaders is what makes an organization resilient, capable of mobilizing people and resources to adapt to changes quickly.

Leaders are essential to the success of an organization. Strong, identified leadership and effective, recognized management must work in harmony with people to take the company to new levels of quality, relevance and success over time.

Do you want to become a leader? A facilitating leader who is capable of managing and leading? So come have a coffee with us and learn about our mentoring program!

Republished with permission.

Featured Image, some translation editing and paragraph spacing added by Enlivening Edge Magazine. Photo by fauxels