I want to discuss the difference between a leader and a manager. A leader… by definition… is someone that is in front. In front of what? Well… there’s the obvious one… a race… but that’s not what we’re talking about here. So in front of what? In front of a group of people? Which group of people? And this is where it becomes interesting because the truth isn’t as hard to grasp as you might think. A leader is in front of the group of people that chooses to them. A leader inspires and ignites passions. On the battlefield, in politics, in sports, and everywhere else… leaders inspire those around them… and… those around them seek the leader for their inspiration… and in so doing… they choose the leader that inspires them the most.
Now what about a manager? Is a manager chosen by the people they manage? No. Do they inspire in any way? If you strive to be a manager someday… you could be said to be inspired… but its not by the person… its by the position of power they have achieved. A manager is chosen by those they report to. Therefore… a manager is an advocate of higher management goals and directives. Their job is to make sure everyone does what they are supposed to do within their goals and directives. This is not to say that manager cannot be inspirational… its just not their job.
This can be explained through the differences in the answers given to the same question…
“What can I do to get ahead?”
A leader will tell you to have respect and always be on the lookout for ways to better than you were yesterday.
A manager will tell you to be professional and always be on the lookout for ways to better the company.
A leader tell you to have faith in your fellow man and trust that your example will light the way.
A manager hovers over your shoulder, or sends you statistical analysis of your performance in an email.
A leader helps you overcome your flaws and shines the light on your strengths for all to see.
A manager develops the skills that help you perform well… but denies you skill building that might make you a threat to their position or the positions above them.
A leader advocates for people and promotes their well-being.
A manager hides the truth and calls it political correctness… or even worse… blames HR and their restrictiveness.
Leaders have a way of mixing things up and finding better ways to do things… and something tells me… that even if a manager somehow became inspired by a budding leader in their ranks… they wouldn’t have the ability to act on it anyway… as a leader can cause havoc… and that’s not part of the plan. The managers objective then becomes to tame this unknown variable and attempt to use in a way that best helps the company. If these attempts are unsuccessful… the budding leader is shunned and eventually released (fired).
This is a sadness that strikes the heart of every indentured servant wasting their life away in corporate torture chambers. Managers help those with similar goals reach high limits. If your goals are contrary in anyway… you are no longer considered a positive force as a leader… but rather highly regarded as a threat that must be either consumed or expelled.
I once thought a corporate career could be a path to a better life… and while many aspects of my life have improved… I’ve spent 15 years in “entry-level positions” with nothing to show for it… and I have a fucking Master’s Degree! And why? Because I see things differently? Because I think corporations should and must do more than they are doing? Because I believe in corporations taking responsibility for themselves and the people they employ? Because I believe that the current system of cut-throat, hire and fire, secrecy, micromanagement, and outright disrespect for human life that corporations have taken with their actuarial tables and numerical breakdown of each person’s life that allows them to disassociate themselves form the consequences of the numbers they calculate and create… is leading to the destruction of our race in spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual, political, social, and economic ways. We have become slaves.
What the fuck do we have left?!?!?! The small glimmer of hope that one day we get to be the manager? The one that doesn’t care? The one that treats people as expendable? The one that develops people only as far as suits the goal… but becomes wary when those people become complacent and bored? Really? That’s what we have left? That one day our manager will pass on… and then maybe I can shift upwards?
I won’t do it. I swear. I can’t lose the part of me that inspires. I can’t lose the part of me that wants to help people… whether they want help or not. I can’t be apart of it and see any changes affected. I’m not being effective here because I’ve spent too long jumping through their hoops. But I will improve. I promise. There is more to come.