I was reading something on LinkedIn around Leadership and Management not being the same and something hit a chord with me.

A couple of years ago I wrote about Leadership and what it meant to me. We did a course at work as a group and it fundamentally changed how I looked at others but also myself. I understood what it meant to be a leader and that not all leaders are management so of course this Linkedin article resonated with me.

I’ve been in a management role now 5 months or so and I have started to look at myself in the mirror and understand who I am and what I want to do and part of me has been thinking that a while back, I saw myself as a leader. I wasn’t in a management role but people came to me for advice, support and when I needed it, they were there for me too whether it be something needed doing or we needed to solve some problems. It felt natural and both sides got something

Fast forward a few months and yes, these things do still happen but I also find myself telling people what to do and ensuring things are done. At times it feels only one side gets something which sometimes isn’t as rewarding.

Now telling people what to do is also a leader’s role at times. Look at government for a second. We were told by the leader of the country we must stay indoors during lockdown and we mostly did. Let’s ignore the fact the actual leader ignored his own advice for a second but there we have a leader telling us what do to so there is an example of both skills.

I started to think of it like this in simple terms and I mean simple terms.

  1. You follow a leader. You do so because you believe in them or what they are doing or saying.
  2. A manager is someone who gives you instructions. If you don’t follow, there are usually repercussions.

Now obviously, it comes down to the manager / leader also. There are many ways of managing. I tend to look at football as a good example.

There are those that are great tactically and give you instructions to follow and there are those that can motivate you with their words. There are many different types. I see the same in all types of management and leaders.

Does being a bad manager make you a bad leader?

No. I think before you tick the bad manager box, I think you need to look at what you have to work with, it just might not be right and in other situations, it might be a different outcome. Again look at football managers, managers get sacked and hired all the time, it’s a results game and that is no different to other jobs in reality but it’s easy to just focus on the end result than the situation you were in.

Same with leader. Plenty of people can be good managers and not be real leaders. They get the job done and the team follow instructions and do what is required of them and if they don’t, they are managed well.

So what am I?

I’m still shaping my way but I am someone who likes to solve problems with people and motivate. I try to lead by example and with my advanced years have plenty of advice and ideas to hand down to those less grey and knackered than myself but I will admit. I see that as the leader in me. Being a manager sometimes means I have to be a bit more forceful and maybe be less of a leader and gets results and that is the challenge of leading whilst managing, something I am still getting to grips with.

Managing isn’t simple when compared to being a leader in my opinion. Decisions are often made that maybe some don’t agree with or like, don’t forget, the manager has rules to follow too and expectations from above. I feel a leader has a bit more leeway to lead and possibly less red tape to deal with but again, maybe I am wrong.

I am still new to the experience and at times it is a struggle to pick the right skills to get the results but I am learning a lot about me, the people I work with and how I want to take it forward but maybe in a years time I’ll think maybe its not as rewarding being a manager compared to a lead designer or maybe I will but time and results will tell, there are no guarantees.