The Myth of Manager Vs Leader Is Harming Your Organization

a group of female and male business employees having a meeting

By Kim Hegeman 

In the business world there has been a myth that managers and leaders are fundamentally different. There are many opinions on how much truth is behind this myth, but CPED Instructor Betsy Hagan challenges us to take these existing opinions and ideas and reframe them for today’s business environment. It’s time to reframe the juxtaposition of management vs leadership roles. 

This artificial distinction of these two roles suggests managers focus on processes and numbers while leaders inspire and lead people. “The idea that every manager is only focused on process is not true,” says Hagan. “That doesn’t guarantee that people are going to have the qualities that are assigned to that word or that concept.”  

This comparison starts to put management in a more negative light while putting leadership in a more positive light.  

Betsy Hagan challenges these existing myths and how we can change our mindset in this 30-minute webinar. 

Perpetuating These Beliefs Hurt Your Organization 

“These beliefs are invasive in ways that are damaging to organizations because they create this dynamic that only a certain status, only certain people who reach this pinnacle of what is meant to be a leader, are the ones who can be visionary, can be influential, and the only ones that can care for and account for other human beings that they are working with,” Hagan says. 

What are some of these invasive beliefs? 

  • Leadership is always higher in hierarchy than management.  
  • Leadership is innate but management is learned.  
  • Leaders are always charismatic and extroverted. 
  • Leadership and management are mutually exclusive. 

What is the outcome of all these invasive beliefs? “We’re promoting that outdated, hierarchical view of organizations in which all ideas, insights, and inspiration are supposed to originate at the top, after which they trickle down via managers to bottom floor employees. That is an old-fashioned way of thinking,” Hagan says. 

Time to Reframe and Think Differently 

Rather than continuing to look at management and leadership in direct competition, Hagan suggests it’s time to reframe our way of thinking starting with three “new” ideas. 

Idea #1 – Leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action.  

What does that mean? Think about it as two systems of action we utilize to get results. Each has characteristics as a function for different activities, but the two systems still complement one another. By getting rid of the idea that these have hierarchy, we can see them as systems. 

“If every single person who worked at a company looked at the fact of ‘I have to be both a leader and a manager in all aspects of my work’ and get rid of the idea that only certain people are managers and only certain people are leaders, then what happens, I think, is that people just bring forth their natural thinking, their good work, they influence effectively, they manage effectively, and you get better results,” Hagan adds. 

Idea #2 – Although the position of “leader” may be appointed and endowed with authority, anyone who has a sphere of influence can be considered a leader.  

“If you are someone who can produce change and movement because you can influence you are enacting that system of leadership. It isn’t about the hierarchy, it isn’t about the title,” Hagan says. “The idea here is that if we see it as activity versus destination, there’s a greater chance that we are going to allow ourselves to do things like throw out big ideas rather than waiting for the authority, for the position, or for permission to do so.” 

Idea #3 – Management and leadership as systems of action are underpinned by two important competencies. 

“I think these two systems are anchored in our ability to think critically, solve problems, organize, create order, and discipline, and our ability to influence,” Hagan says. “If you are working simultaneously on those things it’s going to serve you throughout your career regardless of where you’re at, regardless of what position you have, and it’s likely to take you where you want to go,” she adds. 

Developing a comprehensive skill set that encompasses both effective leadership and efficient management is imperative for successful people management. Our professional development programs offer a unique opportunity to hone these essential abilities and help you both guide your teams towards success and navigate the intricacies of organizational processes. Empower yourself to confidently tackle challenges, maximize your team’s potential, and contribute to your organization’s growth and prosperity through Leadership Beyond Management, Manager Boot Camp, Managing Teams Effectively, or one of our other management and leadership programs