This thin line between leadership and management is the reason why some businesses are burned beneath dirt while others fly high by the stars. The difference between a leader and a manager is that the leader should be the one with the eagle eye, the one monitoring what’s happening around the company in the market, the one saying whether the company is moving in the right direction or not. He should be giving directions to managers to move in a certain direction and that’s it, really that’s it. On the other hand, managers should be the one making sure the company is making progress in that direction, that company resources are being used efficiently while the employee are the ones executing the plan itself. To help you understand the difference between these roles, let me give you an example. Lets say the business is a ship sailing from one city to another, the leader of this ship should be the one with the map and the compass, worrying about the wind and weather (market around the business) and giving directions to the mangers to turn the ship a bit towards east, west and so on. Managers on the other hand should make sure the food supply (company resources) are enough and sailors are doing their jobs (sailing) in efficient way (not lazy on the ship deck).
No lets imagine that this ship has no leader, there are some managers, one responsible for monitoring the sailors, while another is responsible for the health of the crew, and so on. If you started asking any of these managers about the progress of the ship he typically will reply that he is doing his job and if everyone is doing his job in the same manner, the ship will arrive to the right destination or in common language “hell, Yeah we are making progress” usually accompanied by a big smile on his face, the problem here is that they might have lost their track and no one noticed it, it might be that they are on the right planned track but they are heading towards a storm… Unfortunately no one have time to check about that and you can’t blame them, cause every manager is trying to focus on his job. He is always busy with what’s going inside the ship to know what’s happening around it.
“mmm, So lets choose a leader”….. I will not say that choosing a leader is an easy task but the problem is that there is a gravity force that always tend to convert a leader into manager, that gravity force might be that this chosen one is not a leader in the first place, might be that managers don’t appreciate his job as a leader and they see him wandering around doing nothing and so “why he gets to be the leader, why him and not me?”, might be (this is the most common force) that managers want someone to help them with their tasks and they roll their eyes around to find someone, “got you :)”, “please can you take care of that small thingy ?”, one task after another and here we go, one another leader lost.
Some might consider Leading is a simple task, “sure I can do that, who can’t??”. They problem with the leader role is not in regular times, it is in the hard times when things starts going wrong, when the business is not doing right, when the ship starts to sink down. He is the only one responsible for the whole business, the whole ship trip with the lives of its crew; he is the only one to be blamed. And when the business start losing, when the ship hits a storm and the ship can’t make it and it is going down, he is the lucky one that, according to honor code, must be the last one to abandon ship, must be the one that takes the biggggest loss…..”mmm, So lets choose a leader”.
Written by: Ahmed Taha, Feb 2013