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Blog 233: The Difference Between Leaders & Managers In a Word ... Everything.

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

The best thing you can say about a Leader? She made me better. I miss her. I want to be like her. The best thing you can say about a Manager? He keeps out of my way.

Who was the best boss you ever had? Mine comes to mind immediately, The Major. I loved to make him happy, or as my friend, John once said to me, “He makes you want to stand taller on the dock.” Johnny, you do have a way with words.

Leaders inspire, they encourage, and they are not stuck in their thinking. They are not looking to produce last year’s results earlier and cheaper. Leaders are working to take themselves, and everyone with them to something new, better and more rewarding. Leaders bring out the best in others, they ask ‘why not’, they take risks, they fail, they shrug, they get up and they go again. Usually, leaders win.

Managers maintain. Managers protect. Managers get in the way. More often than not, managers lose.

Managers are the champions of policies that make no sense. Managers are the protectors of the status quo even when the status quo isn’t working. Managers, more often than not, are an expensive pain in the ass.

Leaders expect what is working to one day stop working, they are constantly looking to innovate, they look for what will be next, and they get everyone who works with them to think the same way – forward. Leaders take no comfort in the status quo, they are modest about their success, they keep their celebrations short and they reflect glory back to their people.

Managers come up with more and more solutions to ensure everyone keeps doing it the same way.

Leaders come up with more and more encouragement to ensure everyone keeps thinking about how we can make it better.

Managers look for a manual, they believe that if they do what everyone else is doing they won’t fail. Leaders reject the manual, they don’t expect there to be a manual, if there is a manual then they assume it's likely out of date or will be soon enough.

Leaders believe in people and they foster trust, remarkability, compassion and connection. Managers believe that people can be replaced.

Managers believe in their programs. Leaders believe in their people. Leaders are embraced. Managers are endured.

Managers can be leaders. Leaders can never be managers.

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