Are you a manager or a leader ?


Nowadays, most companies in North America are over-managed and under-led. Despite all the books published on management and leadership, few leaders have developed the ability to combine these two skills.

We often think – wrongly – that a manager is de facto a leader. However, the notion of leadership is different from the notion of management. Indeed, a manager ensures that things are done well, while a manager who demonstrates leadership ensures that the right things are done.


Leadership and management are two distinct and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristics. However, both are necessary to succeed in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment.

Management is about dealing with complexity.

Leadership, on the other hand, is not mystical or mysterious. It has nothing to do with “charisma” or other exotic personality traits. Nor is it the prerogative of a chosen few. Finally, leadership does not replace management.


In an ideal world, all managers should be leaders. But not all leaders can be good managers.

Management is the ability to carry out a plan by organizing and recruiting the right people – creating an organizational structure and a set of administrative jobs to meet the requirements of the plan. The equivalent leadership activity to this notion is aligning people. It is communicating the new direction to those who can build coalitions that understand the vision and are committed to achieving it.

Leadership is about ensuring that the plan is achieved and the outcome materialized by monitoring and resolving issues – monitoring results against the plan in some detail, both formally and informally, through reports, meetings, and other tools; identifying deviations; and then planning and organizing problem resolution. For the leader, achieving a vision requires motivating and inspiring, that is, keeping people moving in the right direction, despite major obstacles to change, by appealing to basic, but often untapped, human needs, values and emotions.


Despite the growing importance of true shared leadership to business success, most people’s work environment seems to be a major impediment to the development of true shared leadership. Nevertheless, some companies have demonstrated their ability to develop individuals into outstanding leaders.

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of these true leaders:

1. Visionary ambition, i.e. knowing how to draw, for each employee, the vision of a company/organization on the way to technical and social progress.

2. The cult of the job, i.e. knowing how to constantly reinforce the passion of each employee for his role and responsibilities.

3. The spirit of service, i.e., to demonstrate through each behavior an exemplary spirit of service.

4. Basic management, i.e., the ability to make each employee progress and succeed, whatever the situation is.

5. Motivational management of progress, i.e., knowing how to constantly develop the energy and motivation of each employee (the pleasure of working, the desire to succeed, the desire to progress).

6. Management by values, i.e., knowing how to define and enforce strong and motivating moral values.

7. Permanent reinforcement of coherence, i.e., knowing how to use each technical or human problem to reinforce coherence and team cohesion.

Give each employee the vision of a future that gives meaning to today’s efforts!


In unpredictable situations, what motivates women and men is not just material security, but the overcome projects and risks in good company, the camaraderie, the laughter, the contrast, and the conquest.

One way to develop true leadership is to create challenging opportunities for new employees. Indeed, each employee must be confident that the company/organization’s goals will bring them real progress toward professional and personal happiness. What demotivates women and men is never the prospect of the efforts to be made, but always the certainty or fear that their efforts will not bring any real progress.

We also (and above all) need leaders/managers who have the ambition to build something that clearly combines economic objectives, job motivations, and happiness aspirations of their employees.

Organizations that win are always the ones that take pleasure in setting ambitious goals and even more pleasure in implementing the plans that lead to the desired results. To achieve its goals, the company/organization must never forget that nothing is worse than the spiral of stress that leads employees to doubt, to forget their basics and to throw themselves in all directions.

Finally, above all, we need true leaders who know that their mission is not only to produce results, but to develop the skills, courage and motivation of their employees so that they can achieve more ambitious goals each year.

To succeed today, the organization must, day after day, problem after problem, remove everything that is a source of inconsistency and non-cohesion.

Leaders/managers must know that all the operational or relationship problems that were tolerable yesterday are now unacceptable. What is needed now is true leaders who listen carefully. Every problem must be used to reinforce the feeling of equality and solidarity between all levels of the hierarchy and all employees.


To conclude, it is important to keep in mind that leadership does not replace management. A well-balanced mix of the two skills is essential in any organization.

The notion of true leadership calls for a know-how and refers to responsibilities. It does not define a position.

A true leader is someone who has a vision. She/He uses her/his flair and her/his intuition, that are essential qualities to carry and translate this vision into practical actions.

Which of these two skills do you want to develop?

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