Prompted by a question on a friend’s Facebook post, I’ve been caused to reflect again on how we talk about and differentiate these roles. I’ve also been discussing this topic on a course I’m delivering which focusses on business leadership for growth, resilience and sustainability.

What are they?

I believe that these are quite different skills. I find it odd (and more than a little concerning) that people have a tendancy to see leader as “better”.

To me leadership is about direction – vision / purpose – it’s about setting the course of the journey for an organisation and inspiring and enabling your co-journiers to join you. It’s about looking to the future and mapping the path to ahchievement.

Management is a skill that focuses on creating the space and framework to allow a team of people to do their assigned work and to ensure projects and targets are met and to manage the process should there be slippage. A good manager creates a team that deliver on the vision and purpose set out by the leader.

Can you be both?

Some people can be both, sometimes you need a manager and a leader. Being a good leader doesn’t necessarily make you a good manager, but a good leader should recognise that and put in place good managers to ensure the journey is a good experience for everyone.

You’re not “just” a…

So never describe someone as “just a manager”, great organisations need great managers they are the oil that keeps the organisation moving. Likewise never understimate the vlaue of good leardership, the oil might keep the car moving, but if it doesn’t know where it’s going, it’s going to be a fruitless journey.

Most importantly make sure you understand what you are where your skills and abilities lie and where there are gaps, surround yourself with people who work with you to deliver what the organisation needs.

It’s not about better . . . it’s about different!