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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.

We dive deeply into the substantive differences between the “manager” and the Leader in THE SENSEI LEADER Program.

Here are the three most important:

The “manager” motivates––or at least tries to………The Leader INSPIRES.

The “manger” delegates………The Leader EMPOWERS.

The “manager” drives………The Leader GUIDES.

Let’s start with those…

Motivation seems to be a big concern these days. Forget about it!

Motivate simply means to provide someone with a cause or a reason to act. As I said, any “manager” can do that. You can do it with a carrot at the end of a stick. You can also do it through threats of punishment or denial or through fear, force and coercion.

To inspire means to fill someone with an animating, compelling feeling. You inspire by creating a deeply meaningful and emotional call to action. That’s what a genuine Leader does––and that’s how you lead a team or an organization to excellence.

Any “manager” can delegate…

Empowering requires a deep understanding of the people you serve as a leader. It requires a knowledge not only of their skills, but of their potential. That’s how the Leader connects people with the opportunities for training and development that challenge and engage the individual and expand the innovative capability and productivity of the organization.

It also requires courage and self-confidence––balanced always by humility. You train people to be your equal, or even better––to surpass you in some way. You share power, authority, responsibility––and credit.

The Leader knows that true power is the ability to get things done and that your power as a Leader increases by making others more powerful.

General Patton said: “You drive cattle. You lead people.”

The “manager” tries to drive, push and prod people into action. It’s no wonder that discretionary effort is at an all time low.

People follow examples much more enthusiastically than they do orders. The best way to guide, and the most inspirational way, is to walk the walk. Model the behavior you expect in others and they will follow.

Rather than commanding them––mentor them. Teach, coach, encourage and guide. Make your people better and they will make your organization better. And of course––that makes you a much better Leader!

There are plenty of other important differences between the “manager” and the Leader––and particularly THE SENSEI LEADER.

My program is rooted in the deep traditions of the Sensei––the teacher who Inspires, Empowers and Guides students to their highest levels of performance and in so doing, earns their Respect, Trust and Loyalty––the three most essential assets for effective leadership. That’s what you become when you embrace this philosophy and practice.

Be the Leader who Inspires, Empowers and Guides people to their very best.


Start here…

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