"Manager" and "leader" are not mutually exclusive titles. In fact, I often see managers who are not effective leaders in life. While both are important roles in business, cultivation of leaders creates a different dynamic and success to businesses, communities, non-profits/government, etc.
To Lead: to go before or with to show the way; to influence or induce; cause (dictionary.com)
To Manage: to take charge or care of; to dominate or influence (a person) by tact, flattery, or artifice; to handle, direct, govern, or control in action or use (dictionary.com)
The above definitions illustrate the point even more eloquently than I expected. I’m tempted to stop my blog here, but I will expand on these ideas. I have spent a good amount of time in “management training.” You learn to think, act, talk, and govern like a manager. In fact, academia often leads us in the direction of effectively managing people or in my experience, managing research. Now however; at age 27, I hope to NEVER manage anyone ever again (given the traditional definition). I should say that I am not defining management as a job title, but a mechanism to guide people in the workplace. Because management is exactly as it is defined, taking care of or dominating your employees; handling them or controlling them it’d not for me. How effective is this? In my experience, it is not very effective when it comes to long term development and advancement of employees, business, and agency goals.
One of the biggest shortcomings of many managers, is their lack of leadership skills and abilities. While I believe some leaders are born, others can be trained to lead. What is very clear in either situation is that we all need direction, cultivation, and development of our leadership skills. Currently, all people, but my peers especially, have grown up in a world and academic environment that does not in itself cultivate leaders. I enjoyed the articles released about the "Millennial generation." One article explained how millennials falsely made the assumption that career life would be easy sailing after college, but are disappointed once entering the workplace and possibly a little entitled about what they deserve. The other spoke to the jaded disappointment from, “doing everything right,” but being forced to work for a little over minimum wage with a college degree from a top university. Both theories have a great amount of truth. Both have in part been the result of being trained as managers unable to find fulfillment. An education is incredibly empowering, but is often missing essential leadership development. ‘Is this really it?’ Many of our parents were immigrants or decedents of immigrants who did whatever it took to make it happen. What happened to this mentality? The USA is in fact a great country because anyone can start a business and express innovation, so why the stagnation? Why aren’t we doing whatever it takes to make it happen? Why are we spending 25 years in a job we don’t really like for pay we don’t really like, working for a manager we don’t really like?
Inevitably not everyone will be a leader, but leadership is contagious. Great leaders bring it out in others. Most importantly they lead by example. Management is full of contradiction. We have all had managers who live by, “do as I say, not as I do.” THIS DOES NOT WORK. Two situations occur, employees follow your example or they stick to their guns and show a higher work ethic which often is scrutinized...because you can’t outshine your boss.
Leadership training is far more than a vocational education. Training leaders is a process of guiding people through a complete lifestyle change to have an effective impact. Strong leaders understand something that most other people don’t (or don't want to); that we have a large impact on others. Every action, decision, interaction, etc matters. Scholars such as Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman have contributed to the theory of Emotional Intelligence and its importance to being a successful leader. It doesn’t matter how high your IQ is, where you got your MBA, or how many years you have been managing people, a low level of emotional intelligence (ie self-awareness, social awareness, and relational awareness) contributes to poor leaders and ultimately poor management (Santiago Iniguez, 2014).
Systems need to be adjusted to change the understanding of what management means. There will be situations that need to be managed in the business world and workplace, but effective leaders create a cohesive and open learning environment for everyone around them. It is easy to identify if there are effective leaders in workplaces. The dynamic, the level of communication, and the growth of employees is obvious. When people are solely managed, there is little room for growth. When people are led, there is no upper limit to growth and expansion. Leaders help develop people based on their strengths.One indication of a great leader is the ability to recognize that in any given situation you have a lot to learn. Leaders listen.
I believe in training leaders in all contexts including in social service programs. People don’t need to be educated; they need to be lead to a better situation. I remember sitting in my MPH program thinking, we are still doing things this way, but why? We boisterously plug ourselves into foreign communities to educate away?! Low and behold, this is hardly effective, is not sustainable, and does not have as broad of an impact. Cultivating leaders is what can really change the course of business, communities, and groups. Who am I to go into a community for example and tell them how they should live? However, identifying and training leaders in that community to help mobilize their peers is the most effective way to ignite change. Our impact is great; do not take that fact lightly.
The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do - Steve Jobs