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How to Stop Managing and Start Leading

        posted by , February 19, 2013

There's a big difference between management and leadership.

That doesn't mean that managers don't lead. Many managers lead their teams (leader-managers). Other managers are essentially administrators (administrative-managers).

Every manager must deal with administration. However, administrative-managers sink into administrative tasks and administrative-thinking.

Leader-managers delegate administrative tasks or rush through them. They focus on leadership activities. They develop their leadership abilities such as creativity and decision making.

Leader-managers and administrative-managers have very different habits:

1. Leaders Ask Why, Administrators Ask How

Leaders have a need to understand why an objective has been set. They seek influence over strategy. They feel uncomfortable achieving an objective if they disagree with the strategy behind it. Leaders spend much of their time contemplating — why?

Administrators are willing to execute objectives without questioning the strategy behind it. They focus on processes to achieve objectives. They spend much of their time contemplating — how?

2. Leaders Rely on Influence, Administrators Rely on Authority

Leaders seek to influence everyone they meet. They rely on influence to stretch beyond their present authority.

Administrators rely on their authority to complete tasks. They may seek to expand their authority but rarely stretch beyond it.

3. Leaders Seek Challenges, Administrators Seek Comfort

Leaders aggressively seek new challenges and often seem to be bored with their present situation.

Administrators are comfortable in their present situation and seek to preserve the status-quo.

4. Leaders Are Creative, Administrators Are Systematic

Leaders use their imagination. They may use the present-state-of-things as a reference but can think well beyond it.

Administrators seek gradual incremental changes to the present-state-of-things. They use the present-state as the basis for their thinking. They are most comfortable with repeatable processes. They manage with systems and rules.

5. Leaders Think Outside, Administrators Think Inside

Leaders are interested in the global impact of local decisions.

Administrators are interested in the local impact of outside decisions.

6. Leaders Are Comfortable With Judgment Calls, Administrators Seek Data

Leaders are comfortable with human-driven decisions. They are interested in data but they aren't interested in automating leadership functions.

Administrators prefer data-driven decisions. They are interested in automating administrative functions.

7. Leaders Are Comfortable With Chaos, Administrators Seek Perfection

Leaders are comfortable with impromptu, imperfect approaches if they achieve a worthy objective.

Administrators seek to perfect processes, even if it means that objectives must be more conservative.

This post is an installment in the ongoing series of articles called Management: The Missing Manual.

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