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The key to telling leaders and managers apart
30 Sep 2019

Key To Telling Leaders And Managers Apart In Any Workplace

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Leadership vs. Management: The Difference

The key to telling leaders and managers apart in the workplace is that anyone can be a leader. Not so with managers. Management is named in a formal organizational structure. Leadership is not.

Different People See Different Leaders

That’s because leadership is highly subjective. It has no laws. A leader to one might not be to another. We’ve all run into those managers and executives who held formal authority, show up on an org chart. Yet, we did not see as leaders.

Who we see as leaders is very personal. As such, the hardest truth about leadership to grasp comes up when someone sees someone as a leader but we don’t. It’s leadership’s subjective nature that allows different people to see different leaders. For any type of leader then, there are people willing to follow her.

Telling Leaders And Managers Apart

When it comes to telling leaders and managers apart in the workplace, networks and relationships are key.

When we combine the many aspects of business with the subjective nature of leadership, we find leaders at all levels not just the top. Not just anyone can be a manager though. The org chart dictates that.

Telling leaders and managers apart is easy. Managers have subordinates. People work for them. Leaders have followers. These followers don’t have to work for the leaders.

Leaders are go-to people. People go to them because they want to. Leaders help. They don’t go to them because some org chart says so. Yes, the lowest ranking employee could be a leader.

He might be helpful to others. He might embody the culture. Other qualities might make him so such as expertise, knowledge, experience and more. Again, leadership is personal. That means each of us could have a different reason for seeing (or not seeing) this person a leader.

Networks And Relationships Tell Leaders And Managers Apart

A more concrete way of telling leaders and managers apart is networks and relationships. Do they exist beyond what the org chart suggests? For instance, we can expect managers to have many interactions with their reports. If they have many beyond that, then it’s a plus for leadership.

The same holds true for lower ranking employees. What connections can we expect? What can’t we? Perhaps the assistants on one team see another as a leader. Perhaps they see several assistants as leaders depending on the matter.

We could even have a situation where two assistants see each other as leaders. The first sees the second as such when it comes to documentation. The second could see the first a leader when it comes to customer interactions.

Therefore, when we combine business’ complexities with leadership’s subjectivity, we come up with many ways anyone could be a leader. Not just anyone can be a manager though. The org chart says so.

Series Navigation<< Aligned Leadership And The Leadership vs Management Debate

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