Confusion over two words

element-of-confusion-teeThere are two words that are bandied about organisations, often interchangeably…but I think we need to take great care over their use.

These two words are ‘Manager’ and ‘Leader’.

Using the example of a sports team to explain:

  • the person installed as Captain may not be a leader i.e. if the Coach has got the wrong (wo)man for the job; however
  • many players may lead, despite not being bestowed with the role of Captain.

One is a hierarchical/ formal role granted from above, the other is natural.

You can be given the title of ‘Manager’ and this be a fact, whether people like it or not.

Conversely, you can’t give yourself the moniker of ‘Leader’ (or have this formally bestowed on you) if this is not so! You either lead or you don’t. People follow or they don’t.

You can become a leader by your words and deed. Equally, you can lose your leadership mojo. You aren’t really someone’s leader, just because you say so. Conversely, you may be leading (influencing) people without this being obvious to ‘Management’.

I am not suggesting that there isn’t a relationship between ‘Manager’ and ‘Leader’:

  • the formal position you are given (and, with this, the likely resources at your disposal) will impact the degree of influence that you can have; and
  • obvious leaders may very well be given formal management positions…but this doesn’t secure them as a leader going forwards.

All the more reason to understand the distinction between Management and Leadership.

Finally: It’s worth noting that being good at leading shouldn’t be mistaken for being a leader for good: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. were clearly leaders! They inspired many people to dream, learn, do and become more….but not as we would consider towards a purpose that we would agree with.

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