HR professionals understand the need for strong leadership in an organisation. HC has reported a number of times on strategies and trends in leadership development. Many experts feel that leadership is evolving, and leaders must become primary drivers in helping to steer fellow employees in an ever changing world of work.
However, an interesting and less explored point is the distinction between a manager and a leader, and what it means to cross from one realm to the other. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Vineet Nayar, vice chairman of HCL Technologies, outlined the three primary areas he feels defines the two disciplines as separate entities:
Counting value and creating value
A manager will “count value” – by this, Nayar means they will measure the value created by employees, asking for reports and other analytics to demonstrate how the business – and its employees - are tracking. Nayar feels this can actually disable value adding employees. “If a diamond cutter is asked to report every 15 minutes how many stones he has cut, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting value,” he suggested.
Leaders, however, will be a part of creating value. They will forge a powerful team and help delegate tasks while handling other matters. A strong leader leads by example, and enables those in their team to forge their own path, working on their tasks without the need for someone hovering over them. This is also referred to as ‘action-based leadership’.
Circles of power and circles of influence
A manager will forge a circle of power: their subordinates are obligated to work under them, and the flow of delegation is one way from the manager to their employee. In contrast, leaders will have followers.
A leader will find many colleagues coming to them for advice, including those outside their teams. The flow of duties and information is two way, and while it may appear that a leader has less power than a manager, in actuality, they wield more control over the organisation as more employees value their input.
Managing work and leading people
When it boils down to it, a manager controls a set group in order to accomplish a goal. Leadership, however, is about influencing and motivating, allowing others to contribute to organisational success. Power and control is not what separates the two, but rather an understanding of influence and inspiration.