Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Are You a Leader or a Manager? 

Are you a leader or a manager? Is there a difference between the two? Some people are leaders, but have the title of manager. Many, if not most people, use the words leader and manager interchangeably, but there is a vast difference between the two. So, what are some of those differences? Here are four differences between managers and leaders that I would like to share with you:

  • Managers – whether they be in business, the church or a non-profit organization – maintain the status quo. Just as leaders are needed to move organizations forward, managers are needed for those areas of an organization that are not considered strategic, but still need to be maintained. In some of my assignments in an IT department in a large Fortune 50 organization, I worked with roles that were not considered strategic, but were certainly needed to “keep the wheels on”. Also, some of the responsibilities that I had (making sure everyone on my team accurately recorded their time each week, for example) certainly fell into the managing, rather than leading category. It is the same with a church. In some churches, “managers” (pastors, church leaders, etc.), just maintain what is in place, not working to move their churches forward to impact their communities in a greater way for the Gospel.
  • Leaders cast a compelling vision of a better future. While managers maintain systems and programs that are in place in their organizations, leaders look to a better future, moving their organizations forward. Leaders have vision and they cast compelling visions of a better future for their organizations. This means change, but it is change for the better, not change for the sake of change. Change for the better improves organizations. Change for the sake of change disrupts organizations.
  • Leaders influence followers to buy into their vision of the future. John Maxwell often says that “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”. In other words, if you are not able to influence people to follow your you and your vision, you are not leading. Maxwell has said that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. As a result, leaders need to be people of character and competence.
  • Leaders inspire trust. Stephen M.R. Covey has said “The first job of any leader is to inspire trust. Trust is confidence born of two dimensions: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive, and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results, and track record. Both dimensions are vital.” It is not that people don’t need managers, but here I want to focus on the word “inspire”. Leaders inspire.

Your particular situation may find you doing more managing than leading. However, I contend that no matter what type of leadership or management position you are in, you can have the vision to improve your organization. And if your vision is compelling enough and you communicate it clearly, people will follow you, and you will be a leader.

There are many other differences between leaders and managers. What thoughts do you have about the difference between the two?


5 Essential Qualities of a Great Leader

The subject of leadership is something I think of often. We are all impacted by our leaders, be it for good or bad, from the President of the United States to our immediate supervisor and parents. Soon, I’ll be teaching a class at our church on how to lead like Jesus. The idea behind the class is to make our church a “leadership factory”, teaching how to be a Christ-centered leader no matter where you lead – business, church, sports, non-profit or the home. What better place to learn how to lead like Jesus than the church?
As I prepared to teach the class, I once again gave thought to what the essential qualities of a great leader are. These are qualities that apply to all leaders, wherever they serve. We could name any number of qualities that would be desirable for a leader to have. For example, John Maxwell is known to say that leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.
The 2020 Presidential election is fast approaching. What characteristics will voters find most important when they vote for the leader that will represent our country? Some people may focus more on competency, while others may focus more on character. There were eight manager openings in Major League Baseball after the season ended. What qualities are General Managers looking for as they fill those openings?
If you had to name the 5 most essential qualities of a great leader, what would they be, and why? And, what leader(s) would come to mind that demonstrate each of these qualities. Below I’ll share my thoughts on this. Continue reading