Leaders Vs Managers

leadership Jan 22, 2019

Leaders Vs Managers

We may all be project managers… but are we all project leaders? Managing a group of people or a project plan typically means that we help direct activities or have something to do with guiding the behaviors and actions of our team. But, there is a difference between telling members of our team what to do, and inspiring them to take action. Have you considered whether or not your team members would consider a manager or leader? Or, what distinguishes a leader from a manager?

‘Leaders’ are often distinguished from ‘managers’ by the level of commitment and involvement they have with their team members. For instance, a manager may see their team members as employees who help them achieve a task; whereas a leader sees their teammates as individuals whose skills they can help develop. Managers may be singularly focused on the task at hand, while leaders look toward the bigger picture. Leaders are thought to be more forward-thinking individuals, whose focus is the betterment of both the organization and the individuals that serve that organization. Managers, however, are considered to be more singularly focused, and use tools and people in the standard way to achieve a short-term goal.

Consider this list of leadership traits, and ask yourself if you are exhibiting leadership qualities in your daily work life, or if you may want to focus on honing some of these skills:

  1. Leaders inspire their employees. Rather than telling employees what to do, leaders facilitate an environment where teammates want to work together to achieve a shared goal.
  2. Leaders listen to their teammates, and take their opinions into consideration when making a decision. While leaders may ultimately make a decision for the group, they carefully assess how these decisions effect the people on their team.
  3. Leaders are proactive, rather than reactive. Leaders take the temperature of their teams often, and look for signs of conflict or dissatisfaction in advance. Rather than ignoring issues and letting them lead to bigger problems, they take care of these problems early.
  4. Leaders are hands on. Project leaders don’t just assign tasks and hope all goeswell, they jump in with their team members and make sure actions are being executed effectively. If necessary, they take over particularly problematic tasks to ensure that things get done right.
  5. Leaders ask, rather than command. Remember, everyone likes to feel like their opinions are valid. Barking orders makes people dissatisfied and discontent, asking someone to be a part of something makes them feel that they have buy-in.
  6. Leaders are readers. That is, they understand that they don’t know everything and they value educational resources that help broaden their understanding and knowledge base. Leaders actively pursue improvement for themselves, as well their team members.
  7. Leaders push their team members to do their best, but respect their capabilities. Before promising deliverables, leaders check in with their team members to make sure they are setting realistic expectations. Telling someone they will get something done by a certain time can create conflict and poor deliverables.

These examples of a leaders actions versus a managers actions help demonstrate how leaders truly stand apart in a work environment. Perhaps most important, leaders focus on the well being of the people they work with. As project managers, it is our job to make sure we are doing everything we can to lead our team members to success. As such, we have to ensure that each of those individuals are in the proper role with the right responsibilities.

Focusing on these leadership qualities can help you increasing employee buy-in and satisfaction while improving the project process. Try implementing some of these strategies this week, and see how focusing on leading your people can make a meaningful difference.

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