Managers vs. Leaders: Which One Do We Need?

I remember my first day in my MBA program. After discussing the syllabus for what seemed like two hours, my professor wrote on the dry erase board the words: Managers vs. Leaders. He then asked the question “Who is needed more? Managers or Leaders?” Both are clearly important. Simply put, leadership is about change and management is about control. Leaders change the world; managers keep the world spinning. I don’t want to make the case that managers are more important without leaders. That is silly. Both are important. In fact, both are vital to the success of an organization. That being said, I want to make the case for managers. We need more managers!

First, I work with millennials. We all do. By 2025 – a mere eleven years from now – millennials will make up 75% of the entire workforce (Galentine, 2013). Working with millennials is not a leadership problem. It is a management problem. Millennials need structure. They need discipline. They need accountability. All of these elements fall more under management than they do under leadership.

Management starts and ends with one word: accountability. Accountability is holding someone else (or yourself) responsible for certain tasks, objectives, goals, metrics, actions, and/or behaviors. Millennials need more accountability. This doesn’t mean they need more negativity or criticism. They need more encouragement. They need more engagement. They need more management.

The best managers manage to a process. They measure every important metric and report on in it constantly. They discuss these metrics with their employees and constantly ask questions like “why?” Great managers want to know every element of their business from the ground up. Great managers don’t need to yell, or overly criticize, or be pessimistic. They simply encourage, discuss, manage, engage, instruct, and manage some more. They are disciplined to their calendar and are the best time managers.

I have met many great leaders who were terrible managers. They might be able to motivate a large group of people, but they couldn’t manage a team to put up a tent. In this entrepreneurship-happy society, it is important to remember managers are important too. If every person in a company is a passionate leader (who stinks at the details, being process oriented, and holding people accountable) then the company will struggle. We need more managers. We need more people who are willing to focus on the process, not the limelight. We need people who can focus on consistency not change. Simply put, we need more managers.

References

Galentine, E. (2013). Managing millennials. Employee Benefit Adviser, 11(06), 56. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1362106964?accountid=458

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