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The Difference between Managers and Leaders

As you look out over your current teams searching for signs of potential and areas in need of improvement, you may be keeping a close eye on where you’d like to take your company in the years ahead and how your current employees can help you get there. Pipeline building and mentoring are important to company success, and it’s a good idea to groom and prepare employees for the positions you’d like them to eventually step into. So among your staff, who will make the best future leaders? And who will make excellent managers? And how can you tell the difference?

Signs of Future Leaders

Leaders possess the ability to make employees love their work and throw their minds, hands, and hearts fully into the pursuit of excellent performance. Leaders can make employees care about the fate of the company and invest their energy in company goals, even goals that require personal sacrifice. Leaders keep teams running smoothly and help employees iron out conflicts. They help groups navigate periods of chaos and transition, and they provide a single vision of success that all team members can get behind.

You can recognize strong leadership skills among your employers by looking for clear communicators, calm demeanors that don’t fluster easily, and employees who can make a compelling argument based on sound facts and intelligent reasoning. Keep an eye on employees who aren’t afraid to address groups, to try new solutions that haven’t been tested, to make risky suggestions, and to speak from the heart even when their words aren’t popular.

Signs of Future Managers

While leaders have the ability to rally and motivate others, managers are those who find the bridge to success—or build one from the ground up if necessary. As the old saying goes, leaders do right things, while managers do things right. Every great vision needs the support of a logical and realistic plan, and that’s where great managers step in. These are the people who handle the details, including providing employees with the clear instructions and resources they need to move forward.

Look for management potential by keeping an eye out for employees who gather all the necessary data before they make a decision. Managers like to know where they’re going before they head into new territory, and they tend to take details, planning, materials, and training very seriously. They don’t like to cut corners on any project no matter how small, and they don’t like to take action while questions remain unanswered. When they’re asked to execute a task, they’ll follow through no matter what.

For more on the difference between potential leaders and potential managers, and how to spot both among your employees, reach out to the NC staffing pros at PSU.