Why leaders can manage and managers can lead

Leaders vs managers

Recently on LinkedIn and in business publications we’ve noticed ongoing debate regarding leadership versus management.  While the concept of visionary leadership and thought leadership (think Elon Musk and Richard Branson) has been trending, the role of management seems to be somewhat maligned.  It also seems that nowadays you can only be one or the other.  If you are a Leader you are considered inspiring, charismatic, empathetic and dynamic.  If you are a Manager you are focused on details, commanding and risk-averse. Not exactly something to aspire to!  But before you throw out everything you know about management, let’s have a look beyond the buzz words and look at how both roles are necessary for business owners get the best results from their team.  And how it may be the case that the most effective leaders and managers are actually a hybrid of the two.


Leaders vs managers


Leadership and management are not the same thing but both have their value in a business.  According to management expert and author Peter Drucker “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing things the right way”.  Traditionally a manager’s job is to plan, organise and coordinate while the leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.  So, while a manager uses the resources they have under their control to accomplish certain tasks, a leader influences others to accomplish the bigger goals of the business.

The following skills are commonly used in manager and leader roles:


Manager Leader
administrates innovates
maintains develops
focus on systems /structure focus on people
short range view long range perspective
asks how and when asks what and why
eyes on the bottom line eyes on the horizon
accepts the status quo challenges the status quo
commands employees empowers employees
creates followers creates other leaders
encourages conformity encourages creativity
plays by the rules takes risks
technical visionary
plans inspires
says “I” says ‘we”



Are you a leader or a manager?


There seems to be a growing assumption that leaders are somehow better than managers. Or, that you are either a leader or a manager.  Leadership and management are simply different skill sets, mindsets and behaviours.  When we think of the roles in terms of skills, the natural corollary is that those skills can be learnt, be developed and can take place at all levels of a business. Leadership is not an exclusive club limited to the senior staff in a business, it can be embraced by everyone in a business.


Introducing the Leadager


While there may be a clear distinction between leadership and management behaviours, in reality an effective leader or manager will be a hybrid of both.  Great leaders inspire the team, yet realise that all of the motivational speeches in the world don’t mean a thing if their team doesn’t ultimately see successful results.  Great managers are focused on budgets and involved in every aspect of the business but at the same time they nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

Forward-thinking leadership traits plus a proven managerial skill set is likely the best combination for business owners to both inspire and provide for their business.  This hybrid model has been termed a leadager – managers who lead and leaders who manage.


Developing a leadership mindset in your business


The basis of creating a leadership mindset is founded in the belief that everyone can be a leader. It isn’t something that is just left to CEOs and senior teams, it’s something that can live and breathe at all levels of a business.


Encourage everyone in your business to:

  • be curious and ask questions
  • suggest ideas for better ways of doing things
  • be open to change
  • identify opportunities
  • have faith in their skills and the skills of co-workers
  • embrace education and professional development
  • embrace teaching opportunities
  • take responsibility
  • collaborate
  • look at every situation as a learning experience, even so called “failures”
  • stop worrying about being perfect


Mindsets can be taught.  Everyone in your business needs to know ‘what’s in it for them.’  Whether it’s someone doing research, analysis, administrative duties, sales or development, each member of the team needs to see, understand, accept, and embrace what they can do personally to help achieve the vision and goals of the business.


Further help:

If you’d like to discuss growing your business with one our business advisors, please contact us on 07 3023 4800 or at mail@marshpartners.com.au

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