When I was a young manager, I picked up a bad habit of treating people like projects. I became convinced that if something worked with one person, it should work on everyone. I thought I could create a bullet-pointed plan to be used with every individual on my team. Later I called it project people management. It wasn’t until I failed to create the team I wanted that I realized you manage projects but must lead people. Manage projects lead people.

The Manager and the Leader

Managers tell, leaders ask

Leaders learn that to get the most out of people, they need to keep them involved. They understand their people need to feel like part of a team and that they have a boss they can talk to who listens.

Leaders work on activities; managers dwell on results

Results are important, but whether the results are good or poor the most important thing about results is the learning opportunity they provide. You can’t change the results. When all is said and done, the results remain, but you can change activities to affect future outcomes.

Managers want to know who was wrong; leaders ask what went wrong

It’s not who is right it’s what is right. It’s easy to lose sight of this and play the blame game, but what does that fix? Leaders work on what went wrong first not who to blame.

Managers are stingy with praise; leaders freely give recognition as it’s earned

Managers expect people to do their job without praise or direction. It’s what they’re paid to do. Leaders learn that giving recognition reinforces positive behavior.

Managers focus on employee skills; leaders look for character

I had an interviewee once tell me character was the strength to follow through on a good resolve once the mood had worn off. Skill has nothing to do with character. Most of us have worked with skilled individuals who were disruptive. Which would you rather work with, a positive person who is learning or a skilled negative one?

Managers ask people to fit a plan; leaders fit a plan to the people

How many times have you seen a sporting coach stick with a game plan that didn’t fit his or her personnel? It usually doesn’t work out well. The best coaches use the strengths of their team to create a plan.

Are You a Manager or a Leader?

The truth is you’re probably both. It depends on the category, the team, and the time of day. And here’s the good news. Since you have some manager traits choose one and turn it into a leadership strength. So, where are you going to start? Here are a few ideas on where to begin, 10 Ways to be a Better Boss. 

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because, if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash