Managers of People vs Leaders of Companies: One in the Same?

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An Age-Old Question. Managers of People Versus Leaders of Companies. Are They the Same?

A simple google search will tell you, yes, no, and everything in between. So, for anyone asking themselves how to be a leader or a better people manager, Google is not as helpful as it usually is. In fact, Harvard Business Review – that go to for any query about this ‘peopley’ stuff – tells us that ‘Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organisational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.’ I disagree. What did you say? I said, I disagree because I believe that managers vs leaders are the same in that they should both influence, motivate and enable others…blah, blah. That is not the difference.

Enter, Brian

So, let’s turn to Brian Tracy, who by the way wrote a book that changed the way I saw time management 20 years ago – ‘Eat That Frog’ – Brilliant. Brian says in his 8-minute video that leaders need to have over 30 qualities. I agree, but only in as much as any knowledge (office) worker needs to have a lot of soft skills. From time management to communication to influencing, and so on. That doesn’t answer the question. The question is about the difference. Here’s my take…

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Frank Serpico was a New York cop. Not special in any way. Just a cop. In 1971 he blew the whistle on fellow officers that were taking bribes. He didn’t do this because he was a Director, or specially appointed, or asked. He did it because he thought it was the right thing to do and even though it jeopardised his life and his career, he made a decision and stuck to it.

Orange book cover of Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy to help with procrastination and being productive
Brian Tracy discusses key leadership qualities in his video


The 3 Qualities

Leaders can be such because they have the title, like Director or CEO. Leaders can also be those without titles. Plus, Directors and CEO’s can also NOT be leaders. We’ve all worked with one that never made a decision. In summary, leaders are normally those with the accompanying title, but don’t have to be, and also a leader can be someone without a title. The difference, I believe, is that leaders have these 3 qualities:

  • 1. Big Picture (BP):
    • They strive to see the bigger picture. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, wanted to create a consistent burger. That was his big picture.
  • 2. Quality #2: Big Decisions (BD):
    • The courage to make decisions about what the vision is and how it is achieved, and to accept the consequences, good or bad. Frank made that decision,
  • Quality #3: Big Belief (BB):
    • Imagine if every failure had James Dyson questioning what he was doing to the point where he couldn’t move forward. Dyson wouldn’t be outselling Hoover 4:1 in the UK.

This article on Managers vs Leaders was written by Darren A. Smith for The Grocer.

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