The Coach's Corner

Leader versus manager

April 30th, 2012 // Tom Doescher //

I may lose some readers over this one, but here goes anyway. Many leaders — including Frank Moran, former managing partner of Plante & Moran — have said you manage tasks, but you lead people. I believe this is especially true today, because there are very few purely manual jobs. I have spent the last 20 years in manufacturing, and I love to go on plant tours. Do you realize everything machine operators have to know to perform their jobs today? Running a machine can be very complex work; some of the work cells I have seen remind me of Houston’s Mission Control Center. So what’s my point? There probably are times when an activity is purely a task, and your role may be that of a manager — but I would suggest that, in most environments I have observed, what most associates need is leadership. A leader provides a clear plan/goal, offers relevant training, gives developmental feedback when something does not go right (I did not say screaming!), is accessible to answer questions, and remembers to say “thank you” for a job well done. If you have subordinates, I challenge you to think of yourself as a leader, rather than a manager or a boss.

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