#138- Leading vs. Managing
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host. So today I want to talk about the difference between managing and leading. There is an enormous difference between these two, and I think it’s worth talking about for a few minutes. So you as a leader who may be caught managing sometimes can at least be self-aware about this. There is not there’s not a time when you need to be managing, but they’re just very, very different things.
John: A manager is someone who maintains. A leader is someone who changes. Think about it just in that too broad, very broad brush sense. I think about a manager as someone who is keeping things going on a certain path, whereas a leader is someone who changes the path. They are visionary. They are someone who is seen down the road and forward-thinking, whereas a manager is concerned more about systems and processes and accounting value versus creating value. So I’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about there.
John: I was talking to a friend recently who was saying that his company is just obsessed with tracking numbers and then gathering numbers and collecting numbers and recollecting numbers. And it’s always about figuring out how the activity looks and ultimately presenting that to a senior leader and then a senior leader to another leader. And there’s so much time spent on that minutiae that they forget the purpose of their role is to really help those people drive results. Now, granted, you’ve heard of many of my past podcasts, how important tracking numbers are.
John: But when it gets to the point where your goal is to present a certain picture with the numbers rather than use the numbers for what they are, and that’s to identify opportunities and trends and performance issues, that’s where you get into the management versus really looking at the big picture and understanding leading. So a manager counts value and a leader creates value. A leader’s job really is to help their people do their job even better, remove obstacles, help support them, help give them confidence, help them ultimately do things that they would not have done without the leader’s help.
John: And as I talk about, I want you to think about people in your life or in your business or in sports or whatever that resemble both of these. Managers are oftentimes very concerned about their circle of power. They’re concerned about their rank, their hierarchy. They’re very concerned about titles, where they fit in that organization. Because that’s important to them because that’s how they earn respect and that’s how they earn what they consider to be
followership, although it’s not. But they feel the title is what gives you the ability to lead people, not the case. A leader is more concerned about their circle of influence.
John: So in this way, I look at this and think about how many people come to you for advice outside of your normal chain of command. So I’m not talking about if you have subordinates and people working for you, they may naturally be coming to you for advice. I’m talking about people that don’t report to you, that don’t have a business direct line to you, whether it’s people in your organization that, again, they don’t report to you. They’re in a totally different area or part of the company structure or somebody outside of business, family, friends that come to you for advice. That’s influence.
John: So leaders are really good at building their circle of influence, they’re great at connecting people to, great at bringing other great leaders together. They’re great at building teams. They’re great at understanding people and seeing where the possibilities are for combining different areas of specialty and expertise and talents and everything. Whereas a manager is really just so focused on the task at hand, oftentimes they lose sight of the more important thing, which is the people.
John: So think about this. A manager tends to be more concerned. And I got this recently from Tim Cole, who joined on this podcast where he talked about transformational leaders. And transformational leaders are more interested in the head, in the heart, whereas transactional leaders, which I would also consider to be managers, are more concerned with the hands and the feet. So a manager is very concerned about getting the stuff done. It’s more about the work and a leader, it’s more about the people. So you can almost think about a coach of a team where it doesn’t really matter what players they have on the team, they just want to run certain plays. They’re not considering the strengths of the team, they’re not considering the skill sets are not considering dynamics, they just know certain plays and they just want to execute these plays. They could switch people out. It doesn’t really matter. That’s a manager.
John: Whereas a leader is thinking about how can we make this team better? What are the little 1% differences like Dave Brailsford, the coach of the British cycling team, did? What are the 1%, the aggregation of the little 1% differences that can make this team perform even better? You know, and that’s a great story, which I’ve told on prior podcasts where they did everything from bring pillows with them so they had a better night’s sleep to, you know, paint the inside of the van white so that they could identify dust particles that would interfere with the bike’s performance to changing the seats for better comfort, to different gels to aid their recovery. They brainstormed everything. And that was a leader looking at the big picture and understanding that all these little one percent differences will transform this team, which it absolutely did.
John: Go back to one of my prior podcasts where I talk about that. You can just search and you’ll see it. It is a fantastic story. Managers have subordinates and leaders have followers. So people have a choice on who they follow. They don’t always have a choice on who their
boss is. So they are subordinate to somebody, but they choose who they want to follow. That’s 100% their choice. So leaders understand that and leaders amass large amounts of followers, loyal followers, who not only subscribe to what they believe and tell them to do or
lead them to do in their organization. But really the way they love life, I mean, that’s the way I think about leaders.
John: Ultimately, leaders leave us in a better place than they found us. Transformational leaders, ultimately, as Tim Cole talked about on the recent podcast, ultimately affect the way that we feel. Right. They affect the way that we feel about ourselves. They leave us with a different emotion than we came in. They leave us with different thoughts than we came in. And ultimately they help us do things that we would not have done without them. They alter the path and that’s what leadership is about.
John: So I talk a lot about the fact that a company could have great products, great processes, great service. But the people, the leaders, and the leadership ability is ultimately what’s going to determine does that company ultimately reach its potential? There are tons of companies out there that had a great product or great service that failed or just never reached a real high level of success while there are others that really you would not expect that product to have carried that company to as far as it did. And it didn’t. It was the leadership that ultimately did it. So leadership can be the limiting factor on the growth of your organization.
John: The question I’d have to you is: is your leadership skill at a high enough level to take your organization to the level that it needs to be? Are your team’s leadership ability and competence and effectiveness at a high enough level to be able to take your organization where you want it to go and ultimately where you believe it can go? If not, you’re going to do something about it. It doesn’t happen naturally. You’ve got to invest in your leaders and your leadership development. Otherwise, there will be managers. And ultimately, managers don’t lead organizations to really high levels of success.
John: So food for thought on that. I am here to help you in any way and certainly reach out to me, as many of you do for advice, thoughts, ideas, and whatnot. I’m here and I’m more than willing to help. So quick one today. Again, just a couple of thoughts. Get the wheels turning for you on the difference between a manager and a leader. I hope you find yourself more in that leader category. If you are interested in some ideas on how to do that, that’s a great one on one conversation. Just reach out to me again. I’m here to help and as always, like, subscribe, share all that kind of good stuff, go down below, give a five-star review and let me know what you think, as well as other future topics and or guests that you would love to see on this show. Thanks for joining tomorrow’s leaders. See you next time. Bye.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at email@example.com Once again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Lead on!