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Manager or Leader?

Smita Mishra
Smita Mishra
CEO, QAzone
Smita is the CEO of QAzone which is a software testing firm. more>>
Manager vs Leader seems to be a perennial debate. It is not uncommon to read how people see these different from each other. However, I would like to part with the view of one of my favorite speaker – Johanna Rothman – where she suggests that managers have to be leaders and leaders need to have management skills.

I would put the same thought in a little different light – A good manager may not be a good leader and similarly a good leader may not be a perfect manager. However, it is of utmost importance that a leader has management skills and a manager also has leadership traits in her – to be a successful.

Leadership quality brings vision to a person and guides him for the directions one must take. While management ability gives him the required skill and tools to progress in a controlled fashion in the direction even if in volatile environments.

With the rise of Knowledge Industry – where “Knowledge is Power”, the concept of people manager – which used to be more common in manufacturing industry post Industrial revolution – is dramatically coming to an end. Today’s workforce doesn’t want someone to just assign a task to them as a manager but instead expects their individual abilities to be identified and nurtured to develop their talents. The managers today need to define the purpose for a team and its members and not just assign a set task. Managing such a talent pool while retaining it and benefitting the organization through it can’t be achieved by a manager who is not a leader or doesn’t possess leadership skills at all.

Peter Drucker was one of the earliest management guru to point out this evolution in the management theory that was to soon become a huge trend -because of changing business scenario due to the emergence and rise of “the knowledge worker”. He said – “one does not ‘manage’ people, the task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”

Hence - Whether one calls it a manager or leader or eventually uses both the terms interchangeably in future – one shall be a good manager or a good leader only if they can deliver the desired results while ensuring the progress of each involved in achieving that certain result. Having said that, it will only be a waste of further ink to try to separate the 2 – manager and leader from each other, in today’s ever changing economy based on the knowledge industry.
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