“People don’t want to be managed. They want to be led. Whoever heard of a world manager? World leader, yes. Educational leader. Political leader. Religious leader. Community leader. Labor leader. Business leader.

They lead. They don’t manage. The carrot always wins over the stick. Ask your horse. You can lead your horse to water but you can’t manage him to drink. If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself. Do that well and you’ll be ready to stop managing and start leading.”

United Technologies ran the above as a paid advertisement in the Wall Street Journal in 1985. For many it is an old idea that reflects 25 years of leadership studies, books, speakers, and organizational theories.

When asked, managers will inevitably say that they value the quality of the leader over the manager and that they, given a choice, would rather lead than manage. In fact, this idea of leadership touches us and reflects our deepest desire to be the best we can be. We want to rise above the turmoil. We want to inspire and motivate. And yet, most managers say that they are mired in workflow maintenance, day-to-day crisis “management”, problem solving, personality conflicts, and overseeing toxic teams that don’t work.

Think about the people you have worked with. Remember the ones who you considered good managers. What words come to mind?

How about: Managed work flow, measured results, provided performance evaluation, problem solving, decision making, meeting planning, training, hiring, firing, reporting, efficiencies, organization, resource procurement, etc.

What are the words that remind you of the leaders you’ve worked with?

How about: Inspirational, motivational, coaching, sharing resources, developing vision, principles, information and communications, forecasting the future, strategy planning, assessments, etc.

While we can tell the difference between management and leadership when we see it, the truth is, that most of us don’t know how to make the shift from manager to leader within ourselves.

Let’s take the volumes of written work done on leadership and distill all down it to three points. Leaders have:

· A clear and compelling vision.

· The power to communicate that clear and compelling vision.

· The ability to rally people behind that clear and compelling vision.

Sounds great! Now, let’s add in Jim Collins’ exhaustive research on leaders. Collins found six repeating practices that proved what many others had been saying for decades.

· Leaders have a driving passion to realize their vision.

· Leaders are egoless.

· Leaders build and maintain relationships of trust.

· Leaders unleash the motivation and commitment of their followers.

· Leaders are social and organizational architects.

· Leaders act from positive beliefs about people and situations.

Now it’s sounding even better! If we want to be around leaders, and if those of us who manage others crave to BE a leader, then why do most of us tend to have the training and reinforcement for practicing management rather than leadership?

Answer: Because there is a higher value placed on: preserving the status quo than initiating change; solving problems rather than developing people; meeting short term results rather than developing long term strategy; giving directives rather than building commitment.

We need to not only understand the difference between management and leadership – we need to understand and possess both skill sets. We need to be able make a shift from the practice of managing to the art of leadership.

”That’s easy to say, but how do I do that?” “How can I get the results I need while changing my behavior?” “How do I get ‘them’ to change their behavior and do what I want them to do?” “Is it that these darn employees simply don’t care about the same things I care about?”

Maybe. But in order to get to the “why”, you will have to ask yourself this difficult question:

“What do I, as the leader, need to do differently to get the results I want?”

Answer: You begin the transformation one step at a time.

STEP ONE: Balance your roles

Leadership behavior can be grouped into five leadership roles. Think of them as hats that you wear. Sometimes you change from one to another hat quite quickly. There is no doubt that you’ll recognize these roles:.

· Technician– Does core technical work. Controls work flow. “Do it myself.”

· Manager – Controls the accomplishment of work. Planner. Keeper of the status quo.

· Architect – Builder of systems both social and technical. Has long-term perspective and strategy.

· Trailblazer – Visionary, innovator, looks to the future, asks “What if?” Creator of innovation and chaos.

· Coach – Develops people, motivates and inspires, provides resources and training. Communicator.

We perform all five roles at one time or another. When a team is led well, the Technician and Manager are roles played primarily by team members, not leaders. Which isn’t to say that leaders don’t ever get the fun of work and workflow if they enjoy it. Rather, leaders can choose what hat to wear because they want it, instead of feeling a burden of work, workflow, problem solving, day-to-day crisis, and the rest of the frenetic activity we call “management”. In fact, good leadership is the ability to leave the technical work and the management of it exclusively to the team.

The key is to find the right balance between the roles. If there is not a good balance, the team will mirror this lopsidedness. Most of us have a bias toward one or two roles and tend to neglect the rest. Think for a minute about where you spend most of your time. What are you best at and enjoy most? If you were to start to shift from a manager to a leader, in what roles do you think you’d have to spend more time? What roles would you start to shift to your team?

STEP TWO: Get on “the balcony”

When organizational guru Edward Demming said that leaders should work on systems not in systems, what do you think he meant?

Answer: That leaders add the most value when they are working on improving the team and not just doing day-to-day work, solving all the problems, handling crises, and managing relationships.

The greatest value that leaders can add is to focus more on the team than on the work.

Therefore, as a leader, you must view your team from the outside. The metaphor “from the balcony” suggests that one is observing rather than being caught up in the bustle of the team. The balcony also means the big-picture view. No one else on your team has the ability to understand all the elements like you do. Right?

Before you start to think that practicing leadership will require that you exit the building and not work anymore, start to think of yourself on the balcony. But remember that “the balcony” is a mindset not a physical space. So how can you be in the middle of the action and still be on the balcony?

· You can involve others in solving a problem rather than doing it yourself.

· You can explore root causes of a problem, and fix a broken system rather than solve a daily crisis.

· You can supply needed resources.

· You can remain aware of the impact of your actions on the atmosphere of the group.

“Say that again? My actions impact the atmosphere of your group?” Be honest. Ask yourself: if your team is toxic, what are you doing to create that atmosphere?

STEP THREE: Make your team your product

Next, ask yourself, “When I am on the balcony, what is my product?”

Your product as a leader is the team.

Keep in mind that the product or service of your organization becomes your team’s responsibility – and they become yours. Once you understand this concept, you can get to the work of looking at yourself – your habits, roles and influences – and make the transition from managing to leading. Ask yourself, “How might the concept of being on the balcony change my personal leadership behavior? What roles do I need to practice to improve my skill as a leader?”

We may not have seen our jobs changing as we rise in our career. We might even wonder how and when the skills needed for success changed so dramatically. Was the change by design, skill, accident or tenacity? By being aware of the five leadership roles and the various hats that we wear, we become more aware of the skills we want to develop and the skills we want to develop in others. We start to see ourselves “on the balcony”.

The pages of the latest business journals tell us that innovation and change are the values proving most valuable in this new century, this new economy. You know there is something to that, because your organization is changing, your job is changing—and you too can change into the leader you so admire and crave to be. But it takes practice. Innovate, and transform yourself. Then you will be ready to stop managing and start leading.

Managers vs. Leaders

Managers Leaders
o “Do things right”

o Focus on things

o Maintain stability

o Organize, control, direct

o Technical perspective

o Solve problems

o Make assignments

o “Do the right things”

o Focus on people

o Create vision

o Motivate, inspire, clarify

o Developmental perspective

o Offer resources and information

o Establish principles and boundaries


Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .