It’s so simple to throw around the words leader and manager, but in practice there is a big difference between the two!

Both roles are important, but both do different things.

Leaders lead, managers manage.
Leaders set the vision, managers make plans.
Leaders ask questions, managers give directions.
Leaders are about effectiveness, managers are about efficiency.
Leaders create change, managers react to it.
Leaders let those around them shine, managers want to be recognized as shining lights.

You can be both a manager and a leader, or one or the other. When you are in ‘management mode’ you are working towards the short-term goals and objectives. When in ‘leadership mode’ you are envisioning the future, and laying out the groundwork to have others to join you in heading towards that future.

Leadership begins where management ends

But leadership can be hard. Sometimes it’s easier to slip into management mode – it’s safe, it’s predictable, it’s less lonely.

If you’re in a position of leadership in your organization, ask yourself this question, “What percentage of my time do I spend managing vs. leading?” If the leading percentage is smaller, imagine what would be possible if the numbers were reversed.

“Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.”  – Peter Drucker


The Litmus Test

Leader or manager, which role suits you best? Take this short quiz (developed by Kevin Daum, a columnist for LINK) and find out if your style is one of a manager or a leader. Answer the questions honestly. There is no right or wrong answer, there is no single “best” result except the one that is right for you.

Each “1” response is worth 1 point.
 Each “2” response is worth 2 points. 
Each “3” response is worth 3 points.
 Each “4” response is worth 4 points.

Reflect on these descriptions and consider how you can advance your path whether you wish to manage or lead.

On the morning of a big meeting, two key team members call in sick. You:
1. Call them and firmly encourage them to come in anyway.
2. Roll up your sleeves and work with the team to get ready.
3. Call for a quick 15-minute huddle to redistribute their responsibilities.
4. Call in your most trusted player and ask him or her to step in and take charge.

In the middle of crunch time on a critical project, a pipe bursts in the break room, flooding the whole floor and jeopardizing the computers. You:
1. Google the instructions and fix it yourself so the team is minimally disturbed.
2. Call an emergency plumber and keep close as he works so it gets done fast.
3. Rally the team and get their ideas on how to keep the workflow going.
4. Tell your team members to grab their laptops and have your assistant book a large room for the day at a local restaurant.

It’s your job to address the crowd at the quarterly meeting and set the tone for the rest of the year. Your speech emphasizes:
1. How great the team is and how much you enjoy working with your people.
2. The value to the team of following company procedures to increase productivity.
3. The importance of all employees making the sales process “their own” and thinking creatively to get ahead of the trend.
4. The exciting new developments in your field and how your company can lead the way to the future.

Employees who walk in your office know they may find you absorbed in reading:
1. The company policies and procedures manual so you can update it.
2. The latest industry magazine or the book from that efficiency expert you loved at the last conference.
3. A biography of someone whose life inspires you.
4. A New York Times bestseller on world trends and rapid change.

Your team has encountered a major setback, and you call everyone in for a meeting. At the end, your people respond by:
1. Quietly returning to their desks, feeling nervous but calmer than before.
2. Firing up their computers, initiating your recommended course of action with determination.
3. Chiming in with their own suggestions and ideas, which could be incorporated with your own.
4. Returning to their desks with genuine excitement, ready to go back to square one if necessary.

You have just had a great quarter in which the team exceeded all the benchmarks. You:
1. Treat them all to a catered lunch.
2. Give a rousing speech that personally acknowledges each individual’s contribution.
3. Invite them to a celebratory strategy session dinner with cocktails to set new benchmarks for the next quarter.
4. Plan an off-site retreat, complete with adventure activities, to envision a new audacious goal for the rest of the year.

The weekend finally arrives after a hectic but very fruitful week. You:
1. Decide to sleep in Saturday as a reward.
2. Send out a “Great job, everybody!” email before you leave the office on Friday.
3. Spend Sunday sketching out ideas to beat your record for the last week.
4. Dedicate time each morning to dreaming up an exciting new project to show everyone on Monday morning.

You have arrived at the annual conference and look over the program of sessions and speeches. You choose to spend most of your time at:
1. Workshops and small groups aimed at the key to employee efficiency and satisfaction.
2. A keynote and some panels on employee empowerment and growth.
3. An all-day workshop on establishing personal and professional trajectories.
4. A roundtable with industry leaders, a keynote by a famous entrepreneur, and the networking events.

There’s no avoiding it … you’re going to have to cut the well-liked but ineffective staff member. When you call her into your office, after you give the bad news, you:
1. Follow with an encouraging speech about the many talents she has that will see her through.
2. Offer to be a positive reference for her at future employers.
3. Give her the name and number of a colleague with a position that would suit her well.
4. Take her to lunch and spend some time discussing a career path she might truly enjoy.

An employee asks to talk to you about applying for a promotion you know is out of his current reach. Your response is to:
1. Gently but firmly suggest he might be ready in a year or so.
2. Explain what skills he needs and guide him through a self-assessment.
3. Help him lay out a plan for developing the skills he needs and track his progress
4. Show him some possibilities for other jobs shifts he has not considered and get him energized about a new direction.


Where do you fall?

10-15 Points: Dusty Baker

You are a supportive manager. You know the policies and procedures well and try to keep everyone playing nice together. A company finds you valuable because you keep chaos to a minimum and have tolerance for the things that don’t go right all the time. You keep the wheels moving and the drama to a minimum. If you can engage your teams in a more co-operative manner you’ll increase productivity and might surface some new ideas.


16-25 points: Phil Jackson

You’re good at handling the complexities of a game with many players. You can make adjustments on the fly to keep everyone focused on winning today’s game. You have a strategy for the season, but you also believe you can only play one game at a time. You know how to handle a myriad of intense personalities and get them going in the same direction even if they don’t all play at their best. A company needs you because the world changes and you can’t run everything the same way forever. You have the ability to take the team members through minor disruptions and get them to improve processes along the way while keeping them happy and satisfied.


26-35 Points: Warren Buffet

You are excellent at recognizing trends and establishing pathways to succeed. You inspire the troops in both hard and exciting times. Your delegation skills are excellent, which allows future leaders to rise and expand on your efforts. A company needs you because innovative success can’t all come from dreaming and ideating. Practical visionaries have to take what exists and build it exponentially without letting the wheels come off the bus. You can take a step forward for yourself by picturing yourself at the top of the heap and reverse engineering the leader you truly want to be.

36-40 Points: Moses

Your vision is powerful and persuasive. You have the ability to convince large groups of people to pick up and follow you into the wilderness, and great instincts about where to find the Promised Land. When you make mistakes, they can be big ones, but you stay focused on getting everyone safely through the crisis. You’re not the best for maintaining the team on a day-to-day basis, so delegate to your managers. Use your time for what you do best: exploring, creating, inspiring, and motivating. Give yourself a lot of thinking time so you can resist the impulse of snap-decision orders. A company needs you because the markets move fast and someone has to set the course. But that same person must show diligence and discipline in understanding that every opportunity is not a good one.

Interested in exploring how to spend more time leading? I would love to hear from you! To book a free 30-minute consultation, email me at


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