Manager or Leader?

I was going through some of the books and articles I’ve collected over the years and found this great comparison between leaders and managers. It’s great and I wanted to share it with this community. It’s part of a book or series called A New Paradigm of Leadership. The article was called Leadership in the 21st Century, by Waren Bennis of USC. Yes, it’s in hard copy so I’m unable to provide a link.

The distinction [between managers and leaders] is an important one. Leaders conquer the context — the volatile, turbulent, ambiguous surroundings that sometimes seem to conspire against us and will surely suffocate us if we let them — while manager surrender to it. There are other differences as well, and they are crucial:

  • The manager administers, the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy, the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains, the leader develops.
  • The manager relies on control, the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager has his or her eye on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.
  • The manager ask how and when, the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is a good classic soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

I love this list.  Once of the things I took away from it is the symbiotic relationship between the two.  I’m not sure this was the intended goal of the author, but I couldn’t help but notice how one with out the other could make a frickin’ mess.

For instance, if the leaders is looking at the horizon, who’s looking at the bottom line if there is not manager.  If the manager has a long-range perspective, who’s making the sure the here and now is working if there is not manager.  If no one is administering, while the leader is innovating trouble is right around the corner. It’s the manager that gets things done in that situation, even innovation need administration.

With that said, there are also things where the manager just gets in the way.  The manager relies on control. No organization needs people that rely on control. No do we need people who accept the status quo, everyone needs to be constantly challenging the status quo, managers too.

What do you think?