Knowledge: Knowing the Difference between Leading and Managing

It has been said that leadership is an act of inspiration while management is an act of control. As a future leader, someone who is counted on to lead, likely you’ll be in charge of many different facets of a project: the goals, the deadlines, the team assembled to complete it, etc. It’s your job to find connections between all these points and help shape them into the best combinations. Being the constant point of contact for your staff and leading them effectively means taking an interest in who they are. That way you’ll know what makes them work best: inspiring trust and confidence. And yet, isn’t that what any great manager does?

In today’s post-industrial economy the role of leader and manger go hand in hand. Still, a lot has been written on the differences between the two, that is, the manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate, while the leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. In his book 1989 book, “On Becoming a Leader”, Warren Bennis composed a list of differences:

-The manager administers; the leader innovates
-The manager is a copy; the leader is an original
-The manager maintains; the leader develops
-The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people
-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 asks how and when; the leader asks what and why
-The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon
-The manager imitates; the leader originates
-The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it
-The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing

But, beyond perhaps the foreman of a factory who needs his laborers on a strictly organized schedule, in today’s economy value is derived from the knowledge of one’s employees: in a skilled and educated workforce, management and leadership are not as easily separated as they might have been in the past. Today, employees look to their managers for a defined purpose, rather than simply a task, and managers are not only required to organize, but to nurture skills, develop talent, and inspire results. Therefore becoming a great leader may stem from learning how to be a great manager. Certainly, opportunities to lead begin much earlier in our professional lives. In this era of knowledge, the goal is to get the best from the specific strengths and knowledge of the individual – and through this, those of us with the potential to lead will also have the opportunities.

At naisA Global, one of our goals is focusing on ways in which to realize our own potential, as well as learning how to draw the best out of others: our colleagues, and those who we collaborate with on a professional basis. Through our resources and programs our members are developing the skills to both successfully manage and lead.

naisA Global is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping talented young Asian professionals unlock their potential and become great leaders.