In the past few years, momentum has increased regarding the language towards leadership and the development of leadership skills. As one who trains and is certified to help equip others in this lane, I find the work very interesting and necessary. Having said that, I have also come to notice that while so many people are inspired by being a “leader” that some are offended by the thought of being called a “manager”.
It has become common-place to ask Mid-to-Senior Level candidates in interviews about whether they are a “leader” or a “manager” and I have recently heard some become offended at being referred to as a manager. So, when did being a manager become such a bad thing? I can personally say that while I have spent many years of my professional life leading others – I spent as many, if not more of them, managing. I managed the work of others; I managed projects; I managed resources; I managed, directly and indirectly, thousands of employees; and I managed millions and millions of dollars annually. There were times in my life where it was my role, responsibility, and duty to ensure that all the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed. Someone had to make sure the work was proofread; the boxes were checked; the people were where they needed to be, when they needed to be there; the books balanced; and if necessary – that people were held accountable for their actions and such happened equitably. When those things happened and such went smoothly, the "Leader" was happy and able to focus on the vision and empowering others. And sometimes that was me.
Management is not a bad word nor is there anything wrong with having to manage people and other resources. It is a necessary component of any successfully run operation. Managers have specific tasks that the "Leaders" need to maintain balance within an organization as he/she is typically the one who is plan focused; will implement the vision; keep what is practical and reasonable before the team; identify obstacles that the visionary will later strategically overcome; and ensure the proper systems and processes are in place to get the task done. Considering this, why would we now shun away from these strengths and abilities and start to make one feel negative about being strong in these areas?
Now, can one be too short-sighted and lack vision for the long-term? Of course, but that is not the wave I am seeing take place. What should be an appreciation for both styles, management and leadership, appears to be more of a slant of tearing down management to build up leadership. As an Executive Coach, my experience, teaching, and training has taught me to meet clients where they are and allow them to excel in the areas they are strong as their skills are needed. This is not an either-or proposition but more of an awareness that if we can properly navigate both – our team will be successful, continue to grow, and reach our goals while everyone catches the vision!
So as one who has lead and managed; I can emphatically state that while I understand that everything rises and falls on leadership and that true leadership is not creating followers but more leaders; I am equally proud of my accomplishments as a manager because I can clearly state that my accomplishments there are no less significant, monumental, or impactful upon the organization.