Ten Signs Your Boss Is A Manager - But Not A Leader

A simple way to answer the question "What's the difference between managing and leading?" is this: Managing people means watching them to make sure they do what they're supposed to do. The concept of traditional supervision is rooted in the fear that working people will misbehave or make mistakes if someone isn't watching them to make sure they don't

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A manager marches backwards, watching their troops like a hawk in case somebody is marching incorrectly. They cannot look out over the horizon when they're marching backwards!

A leader faces forward and marches confidently, assuming their troops will follow them because they trust their troops and themselves.

Leaders are confident enough to hire people they can trust and let them do whatever they do best with a minimum of oversight.

Managers cannot relax into trust. They are keyed up, judgmental and certain that dire consequences will befall them if they ever let their vigilance flag.

Managerial fear is the great unaddressed workplace topic that sucks vision, creativity, collaboration and profitability from organizations large and small!

It is hard to talk a fearful manager into adopting a confident leader's mindset because to do so the fearful manager would have to gain a level of self-awareness that they do not understand.

Because they sit in fear, they assume everyone is guarded and political the way they are.

They cannot see trust. They believe that without their constant inspection and evaluation, their department would fall to pieces.

We have been so well-trained in the concepts of fear-based management that we do not recognize there is another way to lead. We can lead without reams of policies and rules.

We can lead people by involving them in decision-making and inspiring them to band together to accomplish something cool.

It is a human urge to create and collaborate unless we thwart the urge by rating and ranking people relative to one another and by tying them down with pointless daily and weekly yardsticks.

When we make work a zero-sum game where my triumph is my co-worker's downfall, we are not only cruel but bad business people, also.

Ten Signs Your Boss Is A Manager - But Not A Leader

 

1. They don't ask for their teammates' opinions before making decisions. They do not dare to share their authority with anyone. They believe their authority to make decisions without asking for input is the source of their power.

2. They do not acknowledge their employees for their effort or accomplishments. They are afraid to thank and recognize their teammates because they need to keep the unequal power relationship intact.

3. They cannot be wrong. Even when everybody knows the manager is wrong, no one will say it because of the force field around the manager. They pretend the manager is not wrong and the manager pretends to believe it, too.

4. They cannot handle dissent or even polite debate.

5. They can only take advice from their subordinates when they are behind closed doors with one person.

6. They do not allow their employees to interact with higher-level managers for fear that a higher-up leader might trust their team member's advice more than their own.

7. They do not stand up for their team members when they could. They will not spend political capital on anyone except themselves.

8. They don't give their teammates visibility into the future, even when it would help the employee and the company to do so. They have taken the adage "Knowledge is power" to heart. They hoard whatever information they acquire, and dole it out in tiny doses.

9. They discount any information or feedback that feels threatening to their political status. When they say "I'll take that idea under advisement" they want to shut you up. They have no intention of considering your idea.

10. They are more concerned about maintaining whatever status, prestige or organizational power they have accumulated than in doing the best thing for the organization.

How do fearful managers keep their jobs? They keep their jobs because they deliver one kind of business result -- the  numeric kind -- for a limited period of time.

They deliver that result by managing through fear.

Over time, a fear-based manager will fail because they have no credibility. No one trusts them.

Fear is a good motivator in the short term but useless over the long term as person after person realizes that the little-tin-god manager has very limited power over them.

If your manager is stuck in fear, your first assignment is to start building an escape hatch.

Life is long, but it's still too short to waste your time and talent working for someone who doesn't deserve you!

Liz Ryan, is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.

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