You may have already heard this, but I really don't like managing people. It's funny coming from someone dedicated to helping others hire better. But, it is very true! Managing teams is not enjoyable on just about every level for me. I don't like holding people accountable. You shouldn't have to be told to get to work on time in my opinion. And, I am bad at articulating fully what I want – I feel like people should just know things.
It has been years to get to this point and longer to say it out loud. I have discovered over the years that what I excel at is more of a leader role. So, what’s the difference between a leader and a manager anyway?
Leader Vs. Manager
Obviously, you could look in a dictionary, but I assume you want my take on it. To me (call it Rikkapedia if you like) the difference is in mindset. Managers inspect, leaders expect – you've probably heard this before. But, this is ultimately what it boils down to.
Managers are better at setting goals, inspecting work, touching base and in general “managing”. They can set great plans to get from point A to B. Managers are awesome at working at keeping everything in line and running smoothly.
A leader expects people to know what to do, how to do it and to follow their lead. If you have more leader tendencies, you probably have muttered this before “I like managing people who know how to show up and just do their job.” You likely don't have the patience to actually manage a team, the day to day workings will drive you nuts. A leader inspires others to follow them. They’re great at communicating their vision and getting others to unite behind them to achieve their goals.
Why It Matters
I am pretty fond of saying “Don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole.” That holds true here. It matters because if you are a manager in a leader role, you will be pretty exasperated and you will likely be seen as a micro-manager. On the flip side, leaders who get stuck in a management role get crabby really fast and probably end up alienating a team of really good people in the process.
So, you do need to spend a little time thinking about where you fit it, especially as you move up the corporate ladder. If you like the day to day management aspects of projects and you enjoy developing people and are great at inspecting work and giving feedback, a management role is probably up your alley.
When you have a vision and a loosely formulated path to get to success and can inspire others to follow, you are probably more of a leader. If you get tired of talking to team members daily and you don't like answering questions – you prefer people to figure it out on their own – you are more of a leader.
Getting It To Work For You
Obviously, these were pretty big generalizations. Most management and leadership staff have some tendencies of both groups. As a building products recruiter, I’ve found the most successful people are those who blend both leadership and managerial qualities. They are able to be inspiring to other people and hold them accountable to the goals they’ve set. No matter where you fall on this path, just know it is perfectly OK – you are just fine as you are. Don't try to make yourself into something you are not. Instead, get to know what you will excel at and what you won't and plan your career moves around it.