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Are you a manager or a leader? Find the answer!

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Leadership Skills
This article is based on the free eBook “Leadership Skills”

Management and leadership skills sets are both important in guiding the development and success of any organization. Yet we often confuse the two. Managers may fail to lead and then wonder why they are having difficulty getting people to work at their best ability. Or leaders may fail to manage and then not understand why they can’t seem to get jobs done on schedule or on budget.

When it comes to articulating the difference between ‘management skills’ and ‘leadership skills’ , it can be difficult to separate specific skills into one set or the other. Don’t the two have aspects in common? Certainly! However, to develop into the best leader you can be, you need to understand how they are different as well.

How to differentiate between leaders and managers

  • Management skills – the skills required to manage resources in order to deliver a task, product, or service. Among others, a manager: thinks short term, plans how and when, builds success through quality and supervises.
  • Leadership skills – the skills required to engage with, motivate, and persuade people to buy-In to a vision, objective, or goal. Among others, a leader: thinks long term, asks what and why, builds success through employees and influences.

Here’s another way of looking at it: when your management hat is on, you are focusing on how you are going to complete the tasks that are necessary to get a job done. You see the deadline looming, and you organize yourself to meet it. When you put your leader hat on, you are influencing the others on your team to do their part to meet – or exceed that deadline or any other performance expectations you might have.

The characteristics of ‘super leaders’

You know what to do as a manager and you know how to get others to help you do it as a leader. In fact, the best leaders will allow others to determine how they are going to contribute to the final product. These ‘super leaders’ are not afraid of taking the risk of allowing others to add some of their own thoughts on how they should perform their jobs. If you have led them well enough, they will perform as you would have them perform. In other words, the most effective leaders are those who can successfully influence the way other people influence themselves.

Leaders don’t always hold a job title or wear a suit

As a leader yourself, it’s important to remember that leaders don’t always hold a job title or wear a suit and tie. Our culture tends to look to those who bear the distinctive titles or make the high salaries or make sweeping, successful changes as the leaders in our organizations. But this view is too narrow and it limits your team’s potential.

Leaders can be the man picking up the garbage who is always conscientious about cleaning up anything that hits the ground instead of leaving it there, or the administrative assistant who treats every call like it’s the most important one she’s had all day. They can be the co-worker who sets the example for the rest of the team by always being on time, doing their best work, and keeping a positive attitude. Or they can be the person who takes the initiative to organize the group’s help when a coworker’s family has experienced a tragedy.

If you simply take the time to look around you, you’ll see that leaders can come in all different types. Being aware of our cultural perceptions about where leaders can be found helps to take the ‘blinders’ off – it opens up the possibility that anyone in your organization could have hidden leadership abilities that are just waiting to be coached to the surface.

If you are interested in learning more about leading and managing others, have a look at the free eBook “Leadership Skills” written by MTD Training.

Download “Leadership Skills” right here.