All leaders are managers but not all managers are leaders. Both managers and true leaders get things done through others, but managers do so by virtue of their specific position within their organizations, while true leaders— regardless of their official rank—do so by inspiring others.
A real leader may occupy any position, from CEO of a large corporation, to first-line supervisor of a six-person work unit. The distinction is not in their official roles. It is in how they run their organizations.
Managers focus on tasks; leaders focus on people.
• plan specific goals
• delegate specific tasks
• implement strategies
• supervise work
• provide structure
• focus on immediate results
• plan general goals
• empower people
• create a vision of the future
• motivate and inspire
• define the group’s culture
• focus on long term results
What truly distinguishes the most effective leaders are their people skills, sometimes referred to as emotional intelligence or EI. EI consists of two complementary competencies, personal and social. The requisite personal competencies are self-awareness and self-management. Social competence includes heightened social awareness and strength in relationship management.
Self-awareness means that the person has a realistic assessment of his own strengths and weaknesses. They also are aware of the impact they are likely to have on others. By constantly monitoring their own inner selves, they can shift their behavior style as needed.
Heightened social awareness means not only are great leaders aware of how they appear to others, but they also have an acute awareness of the cross-currents existing among their followers. They can sense when the members of the team truly respect and trust each other and when they feel a distance.
Finally, relationship management means knowing when one has to act authoritatively, and when a laissez-faire approach would be most useful. The net result is that many different people, with differing personalities, will all look up to the leader, perhaps each for very different reasons.
One way to train yourself to become a great leader is to think of the best manager you ever had, the one who everybody liked and strove to do their best for. Try to analyze what there was about him that made him such a great leader. There’s your model. Go, and practice.
Besides his clinical work and university teaching, Martin Seidenfeld, Ph.D., provides consulting to organizations on management issues and on managing organizational stress.