The answer is all of the above. Different situations call for different roles. Leaders wear many hats and it is your responsibility to determine which hat to wear in each situation. Let’s take a look at a few things that might help you understand the differences between leadership roles and help you choose your hats.
Manager – the Decision Maker
We’ve all seen the quotes “managers do things right and leaders do the right things” or “managers focus on things and leaders focus on people,” and there are many more just like those. In fact, I have my own take on this idea in my LinkedIn profile (feel free to check it out). The truth is leaders sometimes manage and managers often lead. When your team has a problem and needs a quick decision, they need someone who understands the system, has knowledge of the process, and can direct action quickly – a Manager.
Leader – the Visionary
Leaders are able to see the future and take their teams into that future. This doesn’t mean leaders must be the most creative or innovative members of their teams. While creativity and innovation are valuable, the greatest visionary element is curiosity. Visionary leaders ask questions like what is next? What could we do better? They also have the innate ability to lead their teams in finding answers to those questions.
Coach – the Mentor
As the wife of a football coach, I know how much coaches pour into their players. In an organizational setting, leaders serve as coaches to individual members of their teams, encouraging them to grow personally and professionally. The coaching process leads individual team members into the discovery of their own strengths and guides them toward victory – achievement of their goals.
Leading people requires a variety of leadership skills with the ability to discern which skills are needed in different situations. Be bold, be brave, and step into those situations with skill and passion. Remember, your people are counting on you.
“Leadership is not a position or title, it is an action and example.” Donald McGannon