I was speaking with a client recently about his company's heir-apparent: his son. He wants his son to take over as the company "leader" in a few years. His son is very organized. He runs a solid department, manages his staff well, satisfies customers 90+% of the time, and manages his project and department budgets well. However, he's lost when it comes to thinking long-term, studying the industry and competition, identifying new opportunities to pursue or ponder, or in developing the company - or his department - into stronger more viable entities. His son is a good manager. His son may not be a good leader.
The difference in management skills and leadership skills are as vast as the difference in front-line customer service skills and supervisory skills. Yet how often do we see the most effective customer service representative get promoted into the supervisory slot? The typical - and quite often - incorrect - thought process is, "Well, if she's great at customer service, she'll be great at supervising others too." Wrong.
Each position requires its own unique set of skills; skills that are not necessarily transferable. Too often, by promoting the best manager or customer service representative into a position they are not suited to fill, we just end up losing a good manager or a good customer service representative and we gain a poor leader or supervisor.
Good managers are capable of tracking the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly activities of their respective areas of responsibilities. They're good at managing, supporting, and challenging their employees. They use the resources they have to their fullest, and regularly discover new ways to get the most out of what they already have. They meet deadlines. They manage projects. They manage resources, facilities, people, supply chains, and customer demands. They look at the here and now. They focus on implementing the plan that's been established. They focus on getting the job done.
Leaders, on the other hand, focus on establishing the plan. They're responsible for taking the organization on journeys of growth, change, and development. Leaders look to the outside for trends, opportunities, and hazards. They study the competition; the economy; and the shifts in cultures, trade practices, religions, ethics, philosophies, and politics. They anticipate what the world will look like and then develop a plan to state how and where they'll fit in.
Good managers and good leaders are each vitally important to an organization. Each helps the organization's plans for the future become a reality. However, good managers may not necessarily be good leaders. Good leaders may not necessarily be good managers. Don't lose a good manager by creating a poor leader.