Leaders and Managers

This topic is a drum I like to play now and then, because I haven’t said everything I would like to say about it. At some point I will make a more coherent collage.

Leaders and managers are distinct concepts. One relates to a group of characteristics and behaviors, and the other to a role in a company. What you most see in companies is one with a few characteristics of the other. For example a manager that leads by example, provides clarity and acts as a multiplier for their team. Or an IC, that despite not being a manager, is able to provide valuable feedback and coaching to their peers. These two concepts overlap, but we assume that because someone is a manager, they are also a leader. This is not true and a common mistake.

The best leaders at the highest level, shared one thing that set them apart: the ability to galvanize hundreds of people. I truly believe that this is the single most important trait. The ability to convince a bunch of people that the dream is worth fighting for. A CEO that is able to do that, surrounded themselves with great people and delegate effectively, will do well.

It’s possible to become an ok-to-good manager, by following a few simple rules and reading a few good books. I have also written a small TLDR on how to get there. It’s not easy, but simple enough to follow along. Becoming good at the role can be done in a more structured way, compared to becoming a great manager. The latter will challenge our way of being: how to build trust, how to receive and give feedback, being transparent and authentic, treating people with respect and kindness. These often don’t come easy, or naturally. It’s a path with plenty of reflection and inner search.