Leadership and Management

There are distinct characteristics that apply to management vs. Leadership. Certainly, leaders manage, and managers lead. Being designated manager of a business unit does not automatically represent leadership. Understanding the characteristics that represent those managers with real “leadership skills will escalate personal development significantly.

What are the differences between managing and leadership and why is it important to know?

The highest and best contributions by those who manage a business unit come when a manager is also a leader. This is not to be taken lightly. When the manager possesses real leadership skills, their ability to contribute to their own success, the success of their people and contribution to the company will be very evident. The top-performing teams are lead by  leader/manages. Someone with the full compliment of management skills wrapped in the characteristics of leadership. The record-breaking results, promotions and reputation for excellence accrue to the leader/managers in all walks of life.

Any business or professional person who aspires to the highest levels of accomplishment, must acquire advanced people management skills and the attitudes, characteristics and abilities of leadership. In so many cases, you will find very competent managers who get passed over for really top level executive management positions because they have not shown the leadership skills to match their management competence. To be sure, this is not an all or nothing equation. Most managers possess some leadership skills. They could be a natural extension of their characteristics or acquired along the way.

Is Leadership Born or Developed?

There continues to be much discussion and research around the question, “are leaders born or developed.?” the answer is Yes. Leaders may possess some of the leadership traits as a natural part of their make-up. Influences such as family upbringing, early childhood development, the influence of siblings. Relatives and role models can mold some natural leadership. That said, most if not all of the core leaderships characteristics and abilities can be honed and developed with consistent effort and purpose. A manager, dedicated to developing leadership abilities can develop them to an acceptable level. Will some characteristics develop easier than others because of innate ability?, Yes. Can these characteristics be developed  even if they are not so natural?, Yes.

The beginning point to a concerted development effort to become a true leader/manager is to understand that leadership is a  people oriented focus. It may seem obvious to some, and subtle to others, but this is all about leading People. A leader/manager’s primary responsibility is to get important work done through others. The “others” are the people on your team, in your business unit. Those under your responsibility. In an article in the Blog, Changing Minds ( www.changingminds.org.), on the subject of Leadership Vs. Management, the essence of this people centric focus was captured perfectly.

“Leaders have followers. Managers have subordinates.”

Many managers boss people to results while leaders motivate people to follow them to accomplishing the desired outcomes. Certainly, leader/managers apply all the skills for managing people and assignments to a successful conclusion. The plan, communicate, follow-up, coach and exert their influence where ever needed. Real leader/managers do this by influencing behavior through guiding and motivating people to want to step up. Look, every employee under on the team knows who is the “boss.” They know the head of the team has the authority and the positions power to compel them to do assigned work. They know the head of the unit has the power to affect their career if they do not perform.

What the leader/manager brings to the table is the “power of influence.”

people management

The Power to Influence

The power of influence, applied by the characteristics of leadership, creates the “want to” from people on the team, not just the “have to” from a subordinate position. The difference is monumental. The high-performance business units, those that are recognized by everyone as the team that gets things done, rise to the top because they are productive. People will be promoted out of these teams, which reflects in a positive way on the leader/manager. Others want to join these top-performing teams. Recruiting top people becomes easier because of the reputation created by the leader/manager that “this is a great place to work and grow.” In the end, people on these teams look up to the leader/manager, not because they have to, but because they want to follow them. This loyalty and commitment is priceless.

As a starting point for true leadership development, any aspiring manager can look at the following four characteristics and build their own leadership development plan around them. Make a candid, personal assessment your level of competence in these areas and you are on the way to leadership success.

4 Key Characteristics of People Centeredness

1. Communication. Do you consistently work on clear communication with the team and with each individual on the team? Do you regularly meet for a few minutes, scheduled or unscheduled, with each person to “connect” with them. When you meet are you distracted and basically not give full attention. One of the best leaders I ever worked for made you feel like you were the only person in the universe when you spoke. If he was too busy, he schedule a time as soon as practical where you would receive his full and undivided attention.

2.Vision. Do you have a clearly articulated vision of where the business unit is headed? Is this vision communicated regularly and does it link clearly to the actions and performance of the team? People want to buy into the reason and purpose behind the work they do on the team. They aspire to be a part of something bigger and better.

3. Passion. Do you believe in the mission and work of the team and are you totally passionate about it? If not, you are just going through the motions of managing versus leading. People know the difference. Do you “walk the talk” of what you believer  and expect others to do the same? Don’t underestimate the power of commitment and passion for the performance of the business unit.

4. Inclusion. Leader/managers are very inclusive people. Do be sure, they have a specific picture and opinion on how the team executes. That said, they are open the opinions of others and to new suggestions. When project or decision need to be made, they will consult with people on the team and consider other points of view. In the end, the leader/manager makes the final decision. In making the decision, how much more powerful is it to have considered all options and obtain the input of the team. People expect their leader/managers to be decisive and make decisions. They are motivated and have buy-in when they experience having their opinions and ideas considered.

These 4 characteristics and skills; Communication, Vision, Passion and Inclusion, are a great foundation for leadership development. Certainly, there is more to it and many skills and abilities to round out leadership development. It starts with a focus and commitment to these four. Managers can not allow themselves to become so busy and caught up in the hustle bustle of the daily grind that they avoid constant leadership development. Assess these four characteristics and work to improve and exhibit them consistently. A high-performance team will emerge behind a true leader/manager.

(c) Copyright 2012 – Michael D. Moore.  All Rights Reserved World Wide

More reading…

One final thought on people oriented leadership, you may find this reference of value in your personal development, “Management By Delegation” and “Delegating Through the Lens of the Employee”  bringing real world experience and proven tools to managers world wide. Our Programs provide tested procedures, proven skills and valuable management delegation insights for those who manage people for results.

Additional Management Resources

Being People Centered



Michael D. Moore is the publisher of Management By Delegation and is a veteran executive with 40+ years in the Banking and Insurance Industries. A devoted entrepreneur, using his business experience to provide resources for managers and leaders at all levels. For the last 5 years, he has built a growing web presence for helping people with personal and professional development. To learn more about these advanced concepts & join our group Click here 5 Must Have Management Skills

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