What’s the primary difference between managers and leaders? When leaders lose their authority, they retain their influence.

I worked at a company a few years back where I had five different bosses in five years. Two of these bosses were also my friends and rank as two of the best bosses I’ve ever had. Their secret? They were leaders not managers. Due to changes in upper management, both became individual contributors, but they still were able to motivate, inspire and influence those of us that used to work for them.

See, both of these gentlemen had no prior management experience, but what they did have was mentoring experience. They knew how to help people help themselves. They also lacked egos and honestly cared about the people that worked for them.

Too many managers today feel the need to be the boss. They flaunt their authority and keep only their own personal needs in mind. Instead of growing the people that work for them, they feel threatened by them and hold them back. In many cases, people are promoted because they’re good at the technical aspects of their job ands there’s no other place to go except for management. I’m sure everyone knows the type so here are some ways to avoid this:

  • Treat those below you with the same respect that you treat those above you with.
  • Mentor, don’t boss around.
  • Ask, don’t tell, others to do things.
  • Honestly care about the people that work for you and look out for them.
  • Communicate the benefits of doing things in a manner that your subordinates can relate to.
  • Don’t get angry with people when they ask questions and assume they’re questioning your authority.
  • Lead by example, not by intimidation
  • Don’t treat adults like children.

This isn’t difficult; you simply need to remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Managers vs. Leaders

One thought on “Managers vs. Leaders

  • November 5, 2007 at 2:00 am

    Nice post. I’ve seen too many managers as you’ve described.

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