Leaders are not the same as managers

“we have too many managers and not enough leaders in today’s business world. Managers focus on timelines, budgets, organizational structures, metrics, controls, and numbers.  Leaders focus on vision, buy-in, motivation, culture, and people.  Of course management is important.  But while you may get the top job by excelling at management, you thrive in the top job by excelling leadership.  Culture is always in a leader’s job description.” Forbes contributor, John Kotter

The implication seems to be that strengthening the creative culture is in the job description of leaders, but not necessarily in the job description of the manager.

Responsibilities are bifurcated. Leaders inspire people, spark change and strengthen the culture, while managers organize, control work, measure outputs and get things done. The tasks involve different skill sets and attitudes. The hope is that the roles happily complement each other.

The distinction between leaders and managers

The truth is that the division of responsibilities between managers and leaders is defunct, a relic of 20th Century thinking. It’s a leftover from an era that viewed organizations pushing products and services at customers, of tweaking the supply chain, of parsing and manufacturing demand, with the goal of making money for shareholders. It has been called shareholder capitalism.

While this seemed to work well for much of the 20th Century, the results in today’s different work are disastrous, as shown by a comprehensive study of some 20,000 US firms by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge.

  • The rate of return on assets of US firms is one quarter of what it was in 1965.
  • The life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 has declined to less than 15 years and is heading towards 5 years unless something changes.
  • Executive turnover is accelerating.
  • The topple rate of leading firms is speeding up.
  • Only one in five workers is fully engaged in his or her work: the larger the company, the lower the level of passion among the workers.

Read more here


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