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Managers are receiving a bad rap in my opinion.

I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on management / leadership using various texts.

I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature and online that sends, or implies, the message “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad.” People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!

The contrast some writers make is actually about being a good boss versus a bad boss. For others, the distinction is that leaders operate at a strategic level while managers work at an operational or tactical level. The implication here is that the strategic is more important than the tactical. However, we all know that unless it is well executed at the tactical level, a strategy is meaningless. Leadership skills are required to transform strategies into action.

Managers are leaders and supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors, we would never get anything done! They are leading the teams that are actually doing the work.

What we really have are:

Strategic Leaders or Managers (Executives)—setting organizational level vision, direction, and strategy.

Operational Leaders or Managers (Directors and Senior Managers)—coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.

Tactical Leaders or Managers (Managers and Supervisors)—leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.

So, please do not use the term “manager” as if it is somehow less than the term “leader.” Being a manager is an honorable role and it is a leadership role.

BG