Leadership vs Management - What's the Distinction?

“What’s the difference between a leader and a manager?”

Well-worn as that question may be, it remains worth asking because times change, and leaders succeed when their words, decisions, and actions address prevailing conditions. We all suspect, for example, that solving today’s extraordinary problems will take someone other than the all-business manager who kept us on the tracks – and then ran us off the tracks – over the past few years.

According to some research carried out by Achieve Global, one of the largest global training company’s, today's leaders are tasked on a variety of different levels to cope with today’s business climate - this ranges from the largest corporate giants, to small start ups.

The key findings related to some common leadership behaviours across all areas of business surveyed

  • Cost pressures

  • Competitors

  • Improving customer satisfaction

  • Technology challenges

  • Driving sales growth

  • Employee productivity

  • Product/service innovation

As a result of these initial findings, 6 zones were identified around behaviours that today's leaders need to develop:

Zone 1 – Reflection

Leaders assess their motives, beliefs, attitudes, and actions asking, “how can I make sure my limitations don’t lead me to make poor decisions?”

To succeed in this zone, leaders:

  • Take responsibility for their own mistakes.

  • Seek the knowledge required to make sense of the big picture.

  • Examine what role they play in the challenges they face.

  • Treat failure as a chance to learn and grow.

  • Reflect often on their performance as a leader.

  • Give serious consideration to opinions that differ from their own.

  • Speak frankly with others to learn from them and build trust.

Zone 2 – Society

Leaders apply principles such as fairness, respect and the “the greater good” to balance individual and group well-being.

To succeed in this zone, leaders:

  • Act ethically to serve the larger good, not just to obey the law.

  • Encourage others to take socially responsible actions.

  • Openly challenge what they consider unethical decisions and actions.

  • Act to benefit others, not just themselves

  • Recognise and reward others based on merit, not on politics.

  • Make fair decisions, even if they have a negative impact on themselves.

  • Take steps to reduce environmental harm.

Zone 3 – Diversity

Leaders respect and leverage such basic differences as gender, ethnicity, age, nationality, and beliefs.

To succeed in the zone, leaders:

  • Strive to meet the needs of customers representing other cultures.

  • Encourage collaboration among people from different groups.

  • Display sensitivity in managing across cultural boundaries.

  • Effectively lead groups made up of very diverse people.

  • Learn about the business practices of other cultures.

  • Manage virtual teams with explicit customer-centric goals and practices.

Zone 4 – Ingenuity

Leaders offer and execute practical ideas – and help others do the same – to create a climate in which innovation can thrive.

To succeed in this zone, leaders:

  • Help other people to adapt quickly to changes.

  • Help groups to develop a shared picture of a positive future.

  • Develop themselves with the goal of improving overall group capabilities

  • Solve real-world problems by thinking clearly and engaging others.

  • Tell stories to motivate others toward strategic goals.

  • Create a work environment in which innovation can thrive.

  • Find ways to promote speed, flexibility, and innovation.

Zone 5 – People

Leaders connect with others on the human level shared by all to earn commitment, inspire effort, and improve communication.

To succeed in this zone, leaders:

  • Read a range of emotions in others and respond appropriately.

  • Adapt to the leadership needs of different groups.

  • Help others resolve issues of work-life balance.

  • Make a daily effort to inspire the trust of customers and colleagues

  • Minimise the negative human impact of their decisions and actions.

  • Build and maintain a cross-functional task network.

  • Communicate well with customers and colleagues at all levels.

Zone 6 – Business

Leaders develop strategies, make and execute plans and decisions, organise the work of others, and guide effort toward predicted results.

To succeed in this zone, leaders:

  • Adapt quickly to changing business conditions.

  • Manage the costs of operation.

  • Learn new ways to make the business competitive.

  • Develop and implement effective business plans.

  • Analyse and use hard data to promote business results.

  • Manage customer acquisition, retention and lifetime value.

  • Add clarity to their organisation’s vision and values.

What answer do these findings offer for our earlier question about the difference between a leader and a manager?

An analogy may illustrate:

The zone model suggests that the difference between manager and a leader is very much like the difference between a raisin and a grape.

If a raisin is a grape with something vital missing – water - so a manager is a leader with many vital things missing.

Through the lens of this model, a "manager" is competent primarily in one zone: Business. Managers make and execute plans and decisions, organise the work of others, and guide effort toward predicted results.

Just as a raisin has vital nutritional value, a "manager" has vital organisational value. In fact, survey respondents at every level in every global region consistently rated the Business zone more highly, than other zones -and for good reason: without business results, no one succeeds.

Business savvy alone is not enough to meet the complex variety of 21st century challenges.

  • More complex problems demand greater Reflection.

  • Sustainable long-term strategy must have a positive impact on Society.

  • Large-scale efforts need to leverage Diversity in all its forms.

  • Ingenuity drives innovation which sharpens as a competitive edge.

  • Motivating People must involve their emotions as well as their minds.

By this definition, then, an effective 21st century leader moves smoothly among the zones as conditions demand, leveraging strengths from each zone to address deficiencies and ultimately succeed in other words zones.

So, for the business owner, “the leader”, it’s about understanding how well you can adapt your behaviours between each of the leadership dynamics and also those of the more day to day management type activities.

But what about notching it up a gear. How do you become a SUPER leader of both yourself

and your business? Super-leadership is leadership that inspires others by showing team members how to lead themselves. To be effective, a leader must successfully influence the way people influence themselves. Super-leadership is a new form of leadership for the era of knowledge- based organisations distinguished by flat structures and employee empowerment. A super-leader is one who leads others to lead themselves through designing and implementing the system that allows and teaches employees to be self-leaders.

The best organisations have a theory and practice of leadership that subscribes to and promotes the concept that it exists at all levels within the organisation, proving that it’s not about a title but more about a set of behaviours. Be inspirational, be a great leader!

We offer leadership training and coaching. If you'd like help in becoming a great leader we're just the people to help you so please get in touch.

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