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While there is clearly a need for both managers and leaders in the business world and while I respect and have developed close friendships with many a manager, this author simply believes that the law of scarcity applies to the topic at hand. There is an infinitely greater supply of managers causing a much greater demand for leaders. Put simply, because leaders are much more difficult to come by, they are therefore more valuable to an enterprise.
The paragraph above begs the question why are there fewer leaders than managers? I believe it is because not everyone has it in them to be a leader and thus the old axiom "a born leader". The intrinsic quality of leadership often begins with nothing more than raw talent and a certain state of mind. To possess the innate qualities of a leader is however not the same thing as being a leader. As important as your DNA is, effective leadership skills are developed and refined by time, experience, and a true desire to be more than just a manager, but a true leader.
Let's breakdown the DNA of a typical leader...A leader is usually a very creative, dynamic, outgoing and unflappable individual. They tend to think big picture focusing on vision and strategy while looking to make a long-term impact. By way of contrast let's examine the DNA of a manager. Managers are usually more analytical while focusing on process and procedure looking to make short-term contributions. The following list adapted from Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader by Craig Hickman, John Wiley & Sons, demonstrates the DNA gap between leaders and managers:
We have all witnessed companies that have been over managed in the absence of leadership. When leadership has been abdicated to management in a corporate setting you will always find that growth slows, morale declines, creativity wanes and the competitive edge is weakened. That being said, I have personally experienced the value of true leadership at every stage of my life from the athletic playing field, to the military battleground to the corporate boardroom. Let's look at an example of the value of leadership from each of the three areas:
1.An example from the world of athletics...If you were the owner of an NFL franchise and had to choose between having the #1 quarterback in the league or the #1 center in league what would your choice be? Again this doesn't mean that a great center isn't valuable, it just means that the role player isn't as valuable to the team as having the talent factor and leadership characteristics of a true impact player. Simply reflect back upon your own life experiences and you'll see that you have come across many utility players over the years, but very few franchise players.
2.A military example...Contrast if you will the differences of two enlisted men of the same rank. The first is a sergeant in a headquarters unit charged with the administrative support of a company commander. The second sergeant is a combat controller in a special operations unit charged with coordinating air strikes from the ground behind enemy lines. While both of the enlisted men described above hold the same rank, are part of a team, and play important roles, one is clearly an impact player in a leadership capacity while the other is solely a utility player acting in a management capacity. The military has determined that it is a rare individual who exhibits the characteristics necessary to become a member of a special operations unit. Therefore they are willing to make a much larger investment in the combat controller and in return the military expects a much larger contribution from that individual.
3.A corporate example...This example will be short and sweet, but hopefully very clear in its statement of impact. Who do you believe is of greater value and makes a larger contribution to a corporation, someone who administers policy and creates processes or someone who sets the vision and creates the strategy? Just examine the difference in the pay stubs of the two individuals contrasted above and you'll quickly see who the enterprise deems to be of higher value.
to be clear that I am not "anti" manager. I am however very
"pro" leadership when it comes to optimizing the talent factor in
any organization. My bias toward leadership doesn't mean that I
don't understand the principles behind such truisms as: "there
is no "I" in team" or, "the sum of the parts is greater than the
whole" or that "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link."
Rather it simply means that I believe you achieve a much greater
return on human capital with investments made into leadership
due to the scope and scale of the impact that a leader can make.
The bottom line is that I prefer to lead rather than manage and to
be led rather than to be managed.
Mike Myatt serves as the Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer at N2growth, the leading venture growth consultancy in the US. He is also the author and moderator of the N2growth Blog. You can reach Mr. Myatt by Phone: 800-944-GoN2 (4662); E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; or Online: www.n2growth.com
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