Leaders vs Managers

Over the weekend, I had a long conversation with a close friend who is being recruited to become a CEO of a public company.  If he takes the job, it would be his first time in that role – when he worked at a public company earlier in his career, it was in a managerial, not executive position.  Since I have been an executive in a public company, we talked about the differences in leading a public company as opposed to leading a private company.  That, of course, led to a discussion of what this specific company needs right now.

I believe that some companies need a CEO that is able to maintain what the company is currently doing.  When the strategy is working and things are going well, the important thing is to make sure that everyone continues to have the needed resources so that good times can continue (and pay very close attention to early warning signs that they might be ending).  I call these executives “Administrators” — their top skill is administration.

Other companies need a CEO that can shake things up and keep the team motivated.  When the strategy is not working and a change is needed, the most important thing is to have the vision to set a new and better strategy and the communication skills to bring along the many different constituencies of a company as the strategy changes.  I call these executives “Leaders” — their top skill is leadership.

My friend is a Leader, and the company that is talking with him absolutely needs a Leader.  He is also one of the world’s experts in the field that the company needs to shift its strategy into – so I encouraged him to go for the opportunity.

After that conversation over the weekend, I thought that an article in Inc. was particularly on point.  It lists five ways that Leaders and Managers (essentially what I consider Administrators) are different.  Here is a synopsis of the five ways:

  1. Leaders engage with people, Managers engage with data.
  2. Leaders learn from failure and move on, Managers identify fault and pin blame.
  3. Leaders are confident enough in themselves that they do not demand attention, Managers demand recognition.
  4. Leaders maintain the composure no matter what is happening, Managers become flustered when experiencing new and difficult situations.
  5. Leaders have an intent focus on success and find ways to apply all subjects to accomplishing their goals, Managers become bored when not interested in a specific subject.

If you would like to see more – the entire article is here: [Link].


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