Leader vs. Manager: What’s the Distinction?


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“What’s the difference between a leader and a manager?" To answer this and other questions, the AchieveGlobal research team set out to discover how leaders succeed, and isolated specific activities leaders undertake. Our principal findings were 42 leadership practices that are required to meet key global leadership challenges.

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Leader vs. Manager: What’s the Distinction?

  1. 1. Leader vs. Manager:What’s the Distinction?by Craig Perrin A BUSINESS ISSUEThe Question QUICK READ“What’s the difference between a We presented this early model to focusleader and a manager?” groups of executives and middle man-Well-worn as that question may be, it agers in a range of industries and theremains worth asking because times public sector. Their real-world experi-change, and leaders succeed when ence confirmed some themes, added About Craig Perrintheir words, decisions, and actions new ones, and helped refine the model As AchieveGlobal’s Director ofaddress prevailing conditions. We all for quantitative testing. Solution Development, Craig issuspect, for example, that solving a thought leader who works We then designed and launched an cross-functionally and with clientstoday’s extraordinary problems will online survey in the United States, to guide creation of a range oftake someone other than the all- Mexico, India, China, Singapore, responses to market needs. Sincebusiness manager who kept us on Germany, and the United Kingdom, 1986 he has played a central rolethe tracks – and then ran us off the gathering 971 responses from business in developing the company’stracks – over the past few years. and government leaders and associ- flagship programs in leadership, ates. Respondents represented global sales, and customer service;To answer this and other questions, co-authored two best-sellingthe AchieveGlobal research team set and domestic-only organizations rang- ing from fewer than 500 to more than books; written many articles andout to discover how leaders succeed – position papers; and producedto isolate their central concerns and 25,000 employees. eLearning and video that haveactivities – in today’s business climate. earned scores of national and The Findings international awards. In 1998, Craig was named Times MirrorThe Research Our principal findings were 42 leader- Editor of the Year. Craig holds aWe defined a multi-phased process, ship practices1 – some behavioral, B.A. and M.A. from Sanexploring secondary and primary some cognitive – required to meet key Francisco State University.sources, to collect and analyze qualita- global leadership challenges isolated bytive and quantitative data. To begin, we the research:captured key themes from two years of • Cost pressuresarticles in eight respected peer- • Competitorsreviewed journals from Europe, Asia,and the Americas. • Improving customer satisfaction • Technology challengesWe reviewed all article abstracts, readand summarized 80 full articles, and • Driving sales growthdeveloped a provisional leadership • Employee productivitymodel – a hypothesis, if you will – to • Product/service innovationguide the primary research. 1 We defined “practice” as a behavior or thought process, i.e. something a leader does, or about which he or she has evolving thoughts and feelings. Developing the 21st century workforce TM
  2. 2. We sorted the 42 practices into six • Reflect often on their performance categories, or “zones,” to form a com- as a leader. prehensive model of leadership in the • Give serious consideration to opinions 21st century. that differ from their own. • Speak frankly with others to learn from The Leadership Zone Model them and build trust. Zone 2 – Society: Leaders apply princi- ples such as fairness, respect, and “the greater good” to balance individual and Business Reflection group well-being. To succeed in this zone, leaders: • Act ethically to serve the larger good, not just to obey the law. People Society • Encourage others to take socially responsible action. • Openly challenge what they consider Ingenuity Diversity unethical decisions and actions. • Take action to benefit others, not just themselves. • Recognize and reward others based on Statistical analysis confirmed that all six merit, not on politics. zones correlate very highly with each • Make fair decisions, even if they have other, suggesting that the six zones a negative impact on themselves. triangulate on a larger leadership construct. • Take steps to reduce environmental In other words, the six-zone approach is harm. very accurate.2 Zone 3 – Diversity: Leaders respect and leverage such basic differences as The Practices gender, ethnicity, age, nationality, and As useful as statistics may be, most lead- beliefs. To succeed in this zone, leaders: ers will find greater use in the practices • Strive to meet the needs of customers themselves – listed here with a short representing other cultures. behavioral definition for each zone: • Encourage collaboration among people Zone 1 – Reflection: Leaders assess from different groups. their motives, beliefs, attitudes, and • Display sensitivity in managing across actions, asking, “How can I make sure my2 A full research report with detailed cultural boundaries. limitations don’t lead me to make poor statistical analysis is available from decisions?” To succeed in this zone, leaders: • Collaborate well with people very AchieveGlobal. Among other statistical analyses, we tested the internal different from themselves. • Take responsibility for their own consistency and accuracy of this • Effectively lead groups made up of model by calculating a Cronbach’s mistakes.3 very diverse people. alpha. This alpha value was .983, • Seek the knowledge required to make indicating a highly consistent and • Learn about the business practices sense of the big picture. accurate description of leadership of other cultures. today (1.0 is perfect), and therefore • Examine what role they play in the a very reliable model. • Manage virtual teams with explicit challenges that they face. customer-centric goals and practices.3 The top-rated leadership practice in • Treat failure as a chance to learn our survey. and grow.
  3. 3. Zone 4 – Ingenuity: Leaders offer • Manage the costs of operation.and execute practical ideas – and help • Learn new ways to make the businessothers do the same – to create a cli- competitive.mate in which innovation can thrive. • Develop and implement effectiveTo succeed in this zone, leaders: business plans.• Help other people to adapt quickly • Analyze and use hard data to to changes. promote business results.• Help groups to develop a shared • Manage customer acquisition, picture of a positive future. retention, and lifetime value.• Develop themselves with the goal of • Add clarity to their organization’s improving overall group capabilities. vision and values.• Solve real-world problems by thinking clearly and engaging others. The Answer Today• Tell stories to motivate others What answer do these findings offer for toward strategic goals. our earlier question about the difference• Create a work environment in between a leader and a manager? which innovation can thrive. An analogy may illustrate: The zone• Find ways to promote speed, model suggests that the difference flexibility, and innovation. between a manager and a leader is veryZone 5 – People: Leaders connect much like the difference between awith others on the human level shared raisin and a grape.by all to earn commitment, inspireeffort, and improve communication. If a raisin is a grape with something vitalTo succeed in this zone, leaders: missing – water – so a manager is a leader with many vital things missing.• Read a range of emotions in others Through the lens of this model, a and respond appropriately. “manager” is competent primarily in• Adapt to the leadership needs of one zone: Business. Managers make and different groups. execute plans and decisions, organize• Help others resolve issues of the work of others, and guide effort work-life balance. toward predicted results.• Make a daily effort to inspire the “Leaders” must do these things, too, trust of customers and colleagues. but our study indicates that leaders• Minimize the negative human impact also demonstrate other interests and of their decisions and actions. abilities grouped in the model in the• Build and maintain a cross-functional other five zones: Reflection, Society, task network. Diversity, Ingenuity, and People.• Communicate well with customers Just as a raisin has vital nutritional and colleagues at all levels. value, a “manager” has vital organiza- tional value. In fact, survey respon-Zone 6 – Business: Leaders develop dents at every level in every globalstrategies, make and execute plans and region consistently rated the Businessdecisions, organize the work of others, zone more highly than other zones –and guide effort toward predicted and for good reason: without businessresults. To succeed in this zone, leaders: results, no one succeeds.• Adapt quickly to changing business conditions. Business savvy alone is not enough
  4. 4. to meet the complex variety of 21st- About AchieveGlobalcentury challenges: In the 21st century, the level of human skills will determine organization• More complex problems demand success. AchieveGlobal provides excep- greater Reflection. tional development in interpersonal• Sustainable long-term strategy must business skills giving companies the have a positive impact on Society. workforce they need for business• Large-scale efforts need to leverage results. Located in over 40 countries, Diversity in all its forms. we offer multi-language, learning-• Ingenuity drives innovation, which based solutions—globally, regionally, sharpens a competitive edge. and locally.• Motivating People must involve their We understand the competition youemotions as well as their minds. face. Your success depends on people who have the skills to handle theBy this definition, then, an effective challenges beyond the reach of tech-21st-century leader moves smoothly nology. We’re experts in developingamong the zones as conditions these skills, and it’s these skills thatdemand, leveraging strengths from turn your strategies into businesseach zone to address deficiencies and success in the 21st century.ultimately succeed in the other zones. These are things technology can’t do. Think. Learn. Solve problems. Listen. Motivate. Explain. People with these skills have a bright future in the 21st century. AchieveGlobal prepares you for that world. World Headquarters 8875 Hidden River Parkway, Suite 400 Tampa, Florida 33637 USA Toll Free: 800.456.9390 www.achieveglobal.com© 2010 AchieveGlobal, Inc. No. M01281 v. 1.0 (01/2010)