Are you becoming a manager or a leader?

By April 18, 2015All

Leader-vs-ManagerLeaders aren’t always managers and managers aren’t always leaders. It’s a unique combination of rare individual skill sets and style that everyone can agree that we need both to the success and growth of any business.

Many of us on our personal journey, finding out and looking to grow from the management role into a leadership role, to leave a lasting legacy in our business.

Alan Murray, the author of The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management: Lasting Lessons from the Best Leadership Minds of Our Time, says that,

“Leadership is not what you do—it’s what others do in response to you,” “If no one shows up at your march, then you’re not really a leader.”

Great leaders create trust and build relationships with people. No one is aspiring to be a great manager, but someone to make a lasting impact on people’s lives. The management skills are important. But, if you want to become a great leader, it’s time to look at how you can grow from a manager into a leader in order to inspire and motivate people toward a big vision.

Jim Collins, a business consultant and best-selling author about leadership says that,

“Leaders have a unique ability to rally employees around a vision. Because their belief in the vision is so strong, employees will naturally want to follow them. Leaders also tend to be willing to take risks in pursuit of the vision.”

This week, I had the opportunity to connect with such great leader who moved from becoming a manager to a leader. Lee Cockerell.

Lee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort. “As the Senior Operating Executive for ten years Lee led a team of 40,000 Cast Members and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels.

Lee came from humble beginnings, but managed to learn how to reflect on his early poor management style to become a great leader. When Lee started out his career in the hotel business working for such brands as Hilton and Marriott, he was insecure and didn’t trust anyone.

He managed people in intimidating and autocratic way. Lee says that, “When you are insecure, you are raising your voice, mis-treating people and trying to intimidate people all the time.” Lee ran into a “dead-end” with his hard-nosed take no-prisoners management style. He needed to change quickly to create a better outcome. He had to re-think his behaviors and attitudes toward leading people in a positive way.

So Lee took some leadership classes at the University of Kentucky and began to read books about leadership and learn about people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Leaders who did not have authority but were very inspiring and created legacy. As Lee learned about leadership, he began to learn how his behaviors can impact the lives of others. He began to change and practiced better leadership as he moved up the ranks and becoming an executive vice president of operations for Disney World.

So how do you grow from a manager to a leader? Lee offers advice that took him a long time to learn but elevated his impact and legacy in the hotel business forever.

Lee, learned that leadership is about hiring great people, training them and giving them authority so you can trust them to execute the vision and mission of the organization.  It’s about treating people with respect and everyone matters.

When you begin to think about management and leadership, it comes down to this-Leadership is about taking care of your people. Caring, building relationships and creating trust.

Management is taking care of the day to day operation to help the business grow and accomplish important goals.

Here is the interview with Lee Cockerell for Lead with Giants TV

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • There’s something interesting in the idea that the main focus of leadership is about the future vision and caring for the people, and that management is more about delivery of tasks.

    That said, leadership must include delivery, and management must include people. The focus is different, leaders should focus on vision and engaging people, but not to the exclusion of delivery. Likewise managers should focus on delivery, but not to the exclusion of the people.