Leaders Versus Managers

One of the first Christmas functions I attended last year was the function organised by The Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) AustraliaNewZealand.   The organization is dedicated to setting the gold standard for management and leadership competence and excellence.  It was held the day before my 79th birthday.  Three of Jim Mein, David Hayes and myself were sitting around a table agreeing that we probably collectively lifted the average age of the attendees by 10 years.  One of us then asked what is the difference between managers and leaders?

This provoked an interesting discussion.  The two roles are often used interchangeably, but they involve distinct sets of skills and responsibilities. Managers are primarily concerned with planning, organizing, and coordinating, while leaders focus on inspiring, motivating, and driving change.

Managers are responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day operations of an organization run smoothly. They typically have a more formal authority and are tasked with achieving specific goals and objectives. On the other hand, leaders are visionaries who set the direction for the organization and inspire others to follow that vision.

In a nutshell, managers are focused on processes and procedures while leaders focus on people.

Since then I have been browsing around the internet reading various articles about the difference.

I thought this article Leadership Vs. Management by Dr. Santarvis N. Brown in the July 22, 2022 edition of Digital First Magazine is insightful particularly the opening paragraph.  According to the author a leader is anyone who has the interest of a company in mind. A manager is someone who leads a specific area or department.

This interview What I’ve Learned: Michael Useem is worth hearing, in particular for the historical context of how leadership training has developed over the past 50 years.

The hot topic now in Leadership is how will it be affected by Generative AI.  So, using Perplexity I asked what had I written on Leadership.

It replied “Chris Golis, a scholar of effective leadership and emotional intelligence, has emphasized the practical side of leadership and emotional intelligence in his work. His lessons on leadership focus on practical emotional intelligence for leaders and managers, the ability to solve complex problems, make decisions, and ethical leadership. Golis has written several books and e-books on emotional intelligence, emphasizing the practical side of EQ. Additionally, he has shared insights on career success, which may also encompass leadership lessons.”

As one of its sources it mentioned this blog A Tale of Two Leadership Gurus I wrote seven years ago.  The final paragraph is probably still my most important leadership lesson.

“Pfeffer contends that the secret of developing leadership is not to focus on traits but instead heed successful leadership lessons. Here is what he suggests:

  • Relentlessly focus on building your power base using flattery when necessary.
  • Embrace moral ambiguity, frequently the end will justify the means. Accept that the world is full of imperfect people and ambiguous choices.
  • Eschew popularity contests. To get along you do not need to go along. Leadership is not about winning popularity contests or being the most beloved person in a social organization. The monomaniacal focus and energy so useful (if not essential) in bringing great ideas to life are not always pleasant for those in close proximity.
  • When the situation demands change—adapt. Great leaders are flexible and if it is required by a situation, and will behave in usefully inauthentic ways.
  • Master the science of influence using Robert Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice as a primer.

The people who can do these five things well will have a lot of the GoGetterl/Huster component in their temperament. I would add one item to Pfeffer’s list which is to learn a people profiling system which is temperament based such as the 7MTF/Humm-Wadsworth. Leadership is about people and if you have a practical profiling system you will dramatically improve your leadership potential.”

This blog was first posted on LinkedIn on 28 January 2024




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Chris Golis - Author


"Put in a sales perspective, I loved your presentation! I got a lot from what you talked about and I will read your book."

Peter Morris, Executive Officer, Lomax Financial Group

Your presentation on 'Lifting your Level of Emotional Intelligence" to 10 CEOs scored an average 8.9 out of 10 for the topic and 8.5 for the presentation which is great. A couple of the attendees gave you a 10 out of 10, and the comments were:

- Great presentation. Very informative.

- Excellent presentation.

- made me think.

Christi Spring CEO Institute. - web www.ceo.com.au.