Are you a Leader or a Manager?

(This will serve as my “Career” point of focus goal post as I don’t have any new goals for this first convergence target.  The opportunity in other areas is far too drastic and in need of focus.)


  • A MANAGER considers his team pawns to be maneuvered to accomplish his goals.  A LEADER considers them partners to help accomplish THEIR collective goals.
  • A MANAGER is bossy.  A LEADER is assertive with confidence and clear direction on what is expected.
  • A MANAGER assigns tasks.  A LEADER develops a plan (involving and utilizing input from the team) for success.
  • A MANAGER thinks only they have the right answers.  A LEADER is open to suggestions and not only will, but desires to, listen to new ideas and feedback. 
  • A MANAGER is a middle man basically communicating down what those above told her to do.  A LEADER has a vision and actually works with their team to build the plan and tell those above what they plan to do and why.
  • A MANAGER loves “problems” from their team so they can claim they fixed them.  A LEADER loves “solutions” so they can join and guide the process of bringing them to fruition. 
  • A MANAGER says “Do as I say.”  A LEADER says “Do as I do.  Let me show you how and lets achieve something great.”
  • A MANAGER thinks he rules the team.  A LEADER knows he serves the team and does so with a bias to success.
  • A MANAGER considers her role a task.  A LEADER considers her role a gift. 
  • A MANAGER takes the credit for every achievement and talks about “opportunity with so-and-so” on every failure.  A LEADER is magnanimous (my dollar word for the week) promoting the teams successes as widely as possible across the organization giving them all the credit.

This has nothing to do with actual titles, it is about your philosophy.  You can have MANAGER in your title and be a great LEADER.

Let’s talk about the last bullet for a moment as I feel it is a foundational element of good leadership and is given far too little focus.  Its a tricky one as I mentioned in the Produce & Promote post.  There are many “managers” who promote their teams to a point that is not justified.  I am confident their motives are entirely self serving because they look to appear as some sort of great team builder or mentor.  There is too much “I” in their story and if something goes wrong they will turn on their people to cast blame like a ravenous dog.  Ok, maybe thats not completely a fair statement.  I forgot that before they turn on their people they will look to cast blame elsewhere first, then if that isn’t possible – – – let the cannibalism begin.  At the other end of the spectrum are the almost-leaders who are not promoting their people well enough and allowing the great talent in their team to basically “die on the vine.”  It’s all about balance. 


I consider myself a “Window-Mirror” leader.  With every success I look out the window to my team that made it happen and with every failure I look in the mirror to figure out what I could have done differently to drive a better outcome.  There may be specific needs for coaching team members on specific shortfalls but at the end of the day, publically, a LEADER takes responsibility for the lack of results.  Its most certainly a two way street.  Even great leaders will only be as successful as their teams will allow.  Chris Brogan posted a great piece on Escape Velocity discussing ownership while I was drafting this post.  Check it out here.  If you don’t have a team of “owners” guess who’s to blame – YOU!

I could continue this list for hours on end because “The difference is HUGE!”  But I want to hear what you have to add.  How do you see the difference between plain Managers and true Leaders? 

Lets build it together.  Tell me your thoughts and lets get the list rolling!  I will update with my own as well as your additions in a future post.

If you rate yourself as a manager – sorry.  I hope you will take stock not offense.


P.S.  I almost forgot.  You can find my “Career” point of focus goals here.  It is currently at the bullseye for this first convergence target so its complete until the next target.  Of course there is a list a mile long of goals within my current position that I will drive to completion and SUCCESS but thats another story.

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