Unexplored Leader vs. Manager Comparisons

Are you a leader or a manager? Below are five unexplored comparisons I see between leaders and managers.

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  1. Toes vs. Heels: Leaders deliver a well thought out action plan complete with feedback from the team. This plan is derived from forward thinking and understanding of opportunity.  Leaders are on their toes.  Managers react.  They react to challenges, react to opportunities, and react to being constantly on their heels.
  2. Open Door vs. Closed Door: Doors are opportunities.  Leaders will open doors for others, and in turn doors will open for them.  Managers will keep the door closed for their talent and likely will have the door slammed in their face when the talent leaves the manager left wondering what happened when he or she departs for someone who will.
  3. Inspirational vs. Non-Inspirational: This one is pretty simple.  If you can’t inspire others to: believe, take action, take on risk, and challenge failure in the face, you are a manager.  This also applies to using fear.  Using fear is the least motivational tactic available and one widely used by managers.
  4. Why vs. What: Leaders will deliver the WHY behind what everyone is doing.  The manager only focuses on what everyone is doing.
  5. Explosive vs. Incremental: Great leaders will inspire explosive growth because the magnitude of their efforts is multiplied through the efforts of the believers.  Managers will manage the incremental.  Small amounts of growth are possible, through massive amounts of management.

The journey to become a better leader is a long one and it must be embraced.  It’s HARD because external factors are always at play.  There are times when I find myself being a manager and remind myself of the greater purpose for my life and my goals.  My talents are wasted if I’m spending time “managing” the activities of others.  I need to be leading from the front.

ACTION ITEM:  Actions speak louder than words.  To change your style to that of a leader, you have to live it and lead from the front.  No one is perfect.  Focus your efforts on constant improvement.(Kaizen)


The Most Difficult Leadership Question. Why?

I just finished listening to a wonderful audio book by Todd G. Gongwer titled, “Lead…for God’s Sake.”

It was recommended by a friend I work with.  Little did I know I’d spend the better part of the weekend listening to the parable and consuming all the book had to offer.

The parable itself was extremely moving, but as I often do I immediately started relating it to other topics I recently consumed.  Before we continue, you must watch the content below.  It’s a TED talk by Simon Sinek.  The consistencies of the two pieces of content are palpable and instantly triggered me to transcribe this post.

Ask yourself this.  Why are some coaches more successful than others?  The rules of the game don’t change when a select coach is on the sideline.  Yet some coaches amass hundreds of wins, and others struggle to get buy-in and likely lose.  Losing leads to finding a new profession.  In the parable, the main character was a head basketball coach struggling to accomplish his goals.  “His” selfish goals.

Simon says (no pun intended), “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  He repeats more passionately, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it!”

In the book, “Lead…for God’s Sake”, a high school student challenges the historically successful coach with a powerful and life-changing question.  She asked politely, “Coach, WHY do you do what you do?”  Surprisingly, the wise old coach couldn’t answer.  He didn’t know the WHY, he only knew the what.  The “what” equalled winning games in his life.  It’s what he did.  Not WHY.  However, his current situation involved losing more games than winning.

I go further.  Listen to Simon’s story about the Wright Brothers and their competitor who was seeking only riches and fame (what).  The Wright Brothers had an unwavering belief and limited resources.  But they understood and embraced their WHY.  Who will forever be remembered for first taking flight?

The last thought I’ll leave you with is Mr. Sinek’s final thought.  “There are leaders and there are those who LEAD,”  says Simon.  He goes on to say, “Those who LEAD inspire us!”  The book and this TED talk give zero leadership value to position and power.  Inspiration doesn’t come with a promotion and it will never follow a title.  It lives within the WHY.

Pick up a copy of “Lead…for God’s Sake” and see how high school janitor Joe Taylor (fictional character) truly leads others from a seemingly inconsequential role.

ACTION ITEM: If you can’t tell me or those close to you the WHY in your life, please pause and reflect.  Find your WHY and be prepared to unlock all the riches life has to offer.  These riches will be in the form of more happiness, experiences, and relationships.