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Boss vs Managers vs Leaders

Are you frustrated with your boss’s inability to lead you? Well put that frustration on pause because your boss may be a manager and not necessarily a leader.

Yes, there is a huge difference and understanding some of those nuances allows you to set the right expectations as it relates to your boss.

Even though your boss is in a leadership position, that doesn’t speak on their actual ability to lead. Some people are in a position of leadership simply because they met the qualifications outlined in the job announcement. They may have no intentions on actually being a leader but, they’re good at managing people. And nothing is wrong with that as long as your employees expectations matches. Which is not always the case.

Here are my observations:

  1. A leader invests in you for the long-term. He or she wants to see you grow and become the best you, you can possibly be. A manager invests in you for the short-term. He or she is more concerned with making sure you don’t fall short on your assigned tasks.
  2. A leader is confident in his or her ability to be a good leader and it is evident by their actions. A manager questions whether or not they are a good leader and they’re constantly seeking validation, which is evident by their actions.
  3. A leader corrects you when you’re wrong. His or her way of doing that is typically seasoned with empathy. They work with you to show you a different approach on how things could’ve been done differently. A manager’s way of correcting you is seasoned with warnings. You often leave their office feeling concerned and defeated.
  4. Leaders typically have great time management skills. They’re not scrambling around to make time for you. Making time for you is already a part of their schedule. A manager hasn’t quite figured out what his or her priorities are. Instead, he or she puts the responsibility on you to make the appointments to meet with them, when and if necessary.
  5. A leader knows when to be personable and when to be political. They typically understand human behavior and their expectations for you are realistic. A manager struggles with knowing the right time, place and attitude to have when dealing with his or her employees. They often make rookie mistakes when dealing with issues in their work group.
  6. A leader doesn’t compete with you and they also don’t compete with their colleagues. Their ambition is strictly tied to leadership and not status, per se. A manager often is still seeking assurance in who they are and their placement within the organization. They struggle with transitions and competition.
  7. A leader doesn’t get involved with the office chitchat or rumor mill. Instead, a leader tries to put any unnecessary fires out as it relates to those things but with the understanding that they can’t fix everything. A manager is very concerned with the rumor mill and office chit chat. They are concerned about whether or not it’s about them and their way of fixing it is sometimes coupled with manipulation.
  8. A leader doesn’t have to let his or her staff know that they are the leader. Their staff knows they’re the leader, appreciates them as the leader and is ok with them being their leader. A manager often pulls their rank in the ladder. They make it a point to let their staff know who the boss is. Their staff typically view them as ineffective and incapable.
  9. A leader delegates to allow their staff to grow and shine. A manager delegates to keep the stress off of their plate but can be quick to take credit in the high moments.
  10. A leader simply leads! They have a vision they’ve communicated and their actions are consistent towards that vision. A manager has a vision but often times the vision is self-centered and they also have trouble communicating it downward.

With all that being said, you as the employee have the ability to help that manager blossom into an awesome Leader. Leaders are grown not manufactured! And with anything that has to grow, it takes a lot of seed planting and watering in order for it to harvest into something great. Have a fierce conversation with your boss. Look at it from this perspective: You’re helping them to be better so that you can grow professionally.

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