I enjoyed my time at the mine. That is where my knowledge of management and leadership was enhanced through one gentleman who was my boss. In fact the last five years of my career at one of the mining towns was the best time of life because of this man. All the tricks be it negotiations, report writing and customer relationships (internal and external) were theoretically and practically taught by him. This was a man who would skin me alive and later invite me for a drink. Business was business and brotherhood was separate. According to him, the two could mixed but the situation will dictate which one applies and how. In the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organise workers, not just to maximise efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.
A manager is somebody who follows a leader and sees how to structure things to create value for the company. In my life, I have observed and found that the best leaders weren’t necessary really good managers. Yes, they understood the discipline, but they weren’t the best accountant, or the best technical person, or the best brand manager. They can do it, but they have a way of [thinking about the issues] at another level. A leader is somebody who sees opportunity and puts change in motion. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing. The main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them. The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognize this truth, as he was to recognize so many other management truths. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the way business was organized. With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” Mr. Drucker wrote. “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual. Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary”. In India, M.K. Gandhi inspired millions of people to fight for their rights, and he walked shoulder to shoulder with them so India could achieve independence in 1947.
His vision became everyone’s dream and ensured that the country’s push for independence was unstoppable. The world needs leaders like him who can think beyond problems, have a vision, and inspire people to convert challenges into opportunities, a step at a time. Leaders like him are vital to turn around the organisations. Not all human beings are the same. A basic concept, but something that is often overlooked. You have cultural perspectives, language barriers, different educational backgrounds, personality traits and varying value systems with which individuals come pre-conditioned that greatly affects how information is processed and interpreted. Some people work well under pressure, others don’t. Some respond best to tough love, others take it personally and shut down. In order to optimize your effectiveness as a leader, you must have the ability to customize your approach on a person by person basis, based on the situation at hand. Your capacity to execute this concept will play a huge role in your ability to get the best work out of your team and other partners along the journey. The difference between managers and leaders, lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and order.
Managers embrace process, seek stability and control, and instinctively try to resolve problems quickly—sometimes before they fully understand a problem’s significance. Leaders, in contrast, tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are willing to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully. If you think you’re just a manager, then chances are you are missing a load of opportunity to achieve new heights of team success. Also, if this is you, spend some time finding out what your employees think of you and how they feel in their roles. Chances are, they may not be that impressed. On the other end of the spectrum, if you think you are just a leader, then there may be some things you may be missing out on, and that could be structure and systems to support the team. If you lack management skills, then you may be seen as too informal and off the hoof in decision making. You may not have a handle on the things that keep the team and business moving forward. In my opinion, the bottom line is that you need to mix both up. The best leaders and managers are interchangeable.