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Stop training the “manager,” and start cultivating the Leader

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

If you have the word manager in your title, be patient with me…

Warren G. Bennis, one of the pioneers of modern leadership study, summed up the differences between the “manager” and the Leader quite nicely…

"The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.”

If all that’s required is to make sure a schedule is filled with low skilled interchangeable employees to produce a minimum expected output––the “manager” might just be who you’re looking for.

If you want more, you’d better start developing leaders––at all levels.

This is not just another one of those attempts at word-play we too often see in business and leadership. There is a real, substantive difference between who I’m calling the “manager” and the authentic leader.

Some time ago there was a big movement to stop calling people managers. Organizations turned office managers into administrative coordinators. Customer service managers become directors of customer experience. Branch managers are elevated to vice-presidents, which can sound impressive––until you realize that a company has 3 or 4 thousand of them.

I’m not an advocate of semantic tricks. The “manager” is measured by meeting expectations. The leader is defined by exceeding them. No clever title will ever change that. Better to keep the word manager in the title and make sure your managers are also leaders.