Leadership could be defined as the ability to inspire others to achieve their highest potential in pursuit of a common cause. A leader inspires, motivates, enables, empowers, and challenges others to try and do what they thought could not be accomplished.
Management is tactical in nature. Wikipedia defines management as “…the act of coordinating the efforts of people to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively…”
When referring to leaders, one can think of Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, or Abraham Lincoln. They displayed many leadership characteristics with the commonality of providing a great vision, making this vision contagious, recognizing the difficulties yet reassuring others no matter how difficult the path was, the final destination could be reached. Indeed, they demonstrated great managerial skills as well. Strategy is essential but so are tactics, making decisions, telling others what to do and what not to do, and distributing resources and efforts. All of these are managerial skills.
Every successful leader requires both sets of skills. The weighting may be different and more dependent on the specific role. For instance, a mid-level manager may require leveraging the managerial skills more than a CTO would. He/she will need to directly assign resources on a day to day basis, handle requirements from leaders while managing the team in order to deliver on their commitments. Leadership skills are still very important, but without strong managerial skills the team members may not achieve their full potential.
On the other hand, an executive might leverage mostly strategic skills, the ability to create and “sell” a vision, to inspire, to challenge, to encourage and show the way are essential leadership skills. Still, in order to execute on a strategy, strong managerial skills are required.
Yes, many can manage and provide direction, fewer can lead and inspire, but those that are most successful are the ones that have left their mark in history, a true legacy. There are leaders and managers that are strategical and tactical in nature and also have the ability to inspire, influence and direct.
What are your thoughts? Could a leader be a manager? Are these excluding concepts?