When you heard the word 'manager,' what typically comes to mind? If you're like most people words like: command and control, delegate, outdated, or hierarchy come to mind. What about when you hear the word 'leader?' Again, if you're like most people words like: visionary, engagement, and inspiration immediately spring up. I find it rather fascinating that the associations most people have between manager and leader are polar opposites yet the titles we create always the word 'manager' in them and not 'leader.' You'll definitely hear of a senior manager, a managing director, or perhaps a manager of (insert job function). But how often do you hear of a 'senior leader' a 'leadership director' or a 'leader of (insert job function). These types of job titles are virtually non-existent!
So why is there such a distinction between the two words and functions? Language is important and I believe that we need to start to redefine these words to make them equal because how we think about and describe something or someone impacts how we act towards something or someone. Manager = Leader and Leader = Manager. This is the only way for organizations to unlock human potential, drive innovation, improve productivity, and drive overall success. Nobody ever says they want to work for a manager but everyone says they want to work a leader.
What if you went up to employees in your company and when you asked them what they think of when they hear the word 'manager,' they gave you the 'leader' associations mentioned above? That would create quite a different corporate culture. If we make that shift in our minds that all managers must be able to inspire others, build great teams, engage and inspire co-workers, and create a vision for the future; then those are the types of people your organization will hire.
We have the power to make this change. If we could focus on hiring inspiring, creative, innovative and visionary people to fill the role of managers in our organizations it would change our mindset and thus our actions and behaviors.
So, what do you think of when you hear the word 'manager?'