The Generation Gap: Leaders vs Managers

Image taken from google search

I know this topic has been covered by many others in the past, but I just had to get it off my chest. Through my short but fruitful working-life career so far, I have worked for, and worked with, many different types of humans.

And from my experience, I would broadly be able to categorise these humans into one of these 2 types of management styles: Leaders and Managers. [And no, he did not steal this from some google search. These are purely his own views and opinions]

Image taken from google search

A simple example of the difference between the 2 is a general and his army.

The Manager will be the one who sits on a high pedestal right at the back and commands his men to attack the enemy.

The Leader will be the one who is the first man in front of all his men, and leads the charge against the enemy.

Image taken from Google Search

To me, a Manager is usually someone who:

1. Is purely result-oriented. 
He does not care how you do it. He does not care what difficulties you face. He does not care if you have other pending tasks on hand. As long as you give him what he asks for by the deadline that he has set, you have performed your job well.

2. Tells you what to do, not knowing how to do it
He tells you what you have to achieve. E.g. A Sales target of XXXX amount. Or a completed report by a specific date. This is related to the fact that he is purely result-oriented. And don't even try to ask him how to go about doing it. If he's going to tell you how to do it, why is the organisation paying you salary for? Go find out yourself.

3. Draws the hierarchy line very clearly.
He is the manager. You are his subordinate. [Meaning he's your boss]
You should do whatever your boss [him] tells you to do, without question and without challenging him.
He has a boss to report to. And he will do whatever his boss asks him to do without question and without challenging his boss. So why shouldn't you?

4. Is usually someone from the 'older' generation of working class adults.
He is usually someone well into adulthood, typically in his late thirties or even forties. He has worked in a thousand and one different companies and and has much more working experience than you. [Which he regularly uses as a reason to overpower discussions] He usually also demands respect just because he is older than most of the team.

5. Does not share the credit with the team.
He often uses words like 'I', 'me' and 'my team'. He made it work. He inspired the team to hit the sales target. He should be complimented for a job well done. His bosses only know that he is the one leading the project, but have no clue who are the team members in the project team.

Well, to sum it all up, a manager is basically a typical asshole. But the sad truth of the corporate world is that being an asshole really helps to get things done.

Image taken from Google Search

A Leader, on the other hand, is someone who:

1. Is people-oriented.
He wants to know how you are going to do it. He asks you how long you think you will need to finish the task. He is interested in the details and wants to make sure you do it the right way.

2. Tells you how to do it.
He knows what exactly needs to be done in order to achieve the desired results. He tells you in a generic overview how to go about getting it done. And if you ask him for help, he is able to explain to you, step by step, on how to get there.

3. Treats everyone as equals.
He might be your supervisor, but he treats you more like a friend than a subordinate. He has casual talks with you, jokes with you, and basically makes you feel that everyone is on the same level. He addresses his team members as "colleagues" instead of his "staff". You don't feel much stress or anxiety when discussing work issues with him.

4. Is usually someone from Gen X or even Gen Y.
He usually comes from the younger group of working adults in their late twenties or early thirties. He might even be younger than some of the team members under him. But to him, age is just a number. He ranks his staff based on their ability to perform and not just the number of seconds they have been on this planet.

5. Emphasises on the Team and not on individuals
He often uses words like 'we', 'us' and 'the team'. He understands that the success is attributed to every single person of the team working together as a unit. He gives credit to the entire team and usually takes little [if any at all] credit for himself.

The Leader sounds like an all-round good guy, and usually is a Mr Nice Guy. However, Mr Nice Guys sometimes get bullied coaxed by other colleagues, or even worse, his subordinates, to do things that is not within his job scope. He sometimes also has a problem of delivering the goods on time due to being too understanding.

Image taken from Google Search

But at the end of it all, I believe that the most important resource that any company has is not the healthy bank statement or their wonderful product, but more importantly, it is the people in the company that make things work.

So what if you have the best product in the world? Without good salesmen, professional Customer Service Officers and a strong Research and Development team, the company would still lose out to its competition sooner or later. [Probably sooner more than later]

Image taken from Google Search

Companies with many managers always have a better track record, both operationally and financially, as compared to companies with many leaders. However, companies with many managers tend to stay stagnant at their current status quo, and will never be able to have a breakthrough that will turn them into great companies.

In contrast, companies with many leaders tend to be a little shaky, especially at the get go. But because the company grows together with its staff, these companies are like an eager bud, waiting for the right time to blossom into a beautiful flower. The problem is that sometimes, these companies do not have enough experience or resources to get through that wait.

So are you a manager or a leader? And is it possible to be able to switch between these 2 contrasting personalities depending on the situation that arises?

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