Today, like every day, I logged in to LinkedIn to find something unexpected, a meme comparing leaders to managers.
I’m just kidding, it was completely expected because everyone and their grandmother has favorably compared being a leader with being a manager. But is it really better to be a “leader” as our favorite quotes and memes would suggest? No. It’s a cop out.
All that these comparisons do is prove the following point:
A manager is someone who accepts that their job involves leading others and that doing so requires one to, at times, do things that are not popular and fun. A leader is someone who comes in with balloons, makes people feel special, encourages them to think for themselves and then drinks a protein smoothie.
Leadership and management are intertwined, one dies without the other. If you are a leader who cannot manage people, you are the equivalent of a grandfather who everyone likes, but whose sensless rambles around the Christmas tree are ultimately overlooked. The kids love him, they listen to him when he asks to be hooked up to the oxygen tank, but they ultimately take his “you’re awesome” attitude and turn it into affluenza.
A manager who is completely disliked isn’t “doing his job” as many would say (another silly quote – “If people don’t like you, it means you’re doing your job” . . . . BULLCORN!)
To be a leader you must be willing and capable of management, and to be a manager you must be willing to invest personally in those you manage. They are not separate.
The people who devised such a popular comparison and those who share it as some sort of secret insight are not leaders or managers, they are lazy. They either choose to be friends and happy with everyone or process-driven and hated by everyone. That’s not okay.
If you are comfortable just being a manager. . . quit. If you are comfortable just being a visionary leader. . . quit. You’re worth less in that headspace.
If you are a leader who thinks that because you are a leader, it’d be best to hire a manager-type to fill in your loose ends. . . quit. You’re asking two people to do one person’s job.
The moral of the story: If you have the balls to call yourself a leader, be proud that doing so requires you to learn how to manage.