“Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” This quotation is not meant to be a criticism of managers or managing, but it does describe very succinctly for us where the difference in focus between the two lies.
By “right” in the case of the manager, we mean ensuring that procedures and operating processes are adhered to and that things go smoothly and as close to plan as possible and when they don’t, that they are then put “right”. By “right” things in the case of the leader, we mean the things that will take the company and business forward to new levels of performance.
The key point to make here is that it is creativity that marks the difference between the two.
Leaders are interested in what can be and what they want to make happen. This is what creativity is – a refusal to settle for things as they are, a belief in things being better and a brave commitment to work to make them so. This calls for a special way of thinking, seeing and acting in the world. It calls for a creative mentality, creative skills and creative systems and structures. It is the manager who makes things happens, who in the process, becomes a leader.
This shift from managing to leading is both subtle and enormous. It is a shift in thinking, in influencing, in organising. Above all, it’s a shift in beliefs. Being creative is dependent on how we see the world, how we see others and how we see ourselves. Being a leader means seeing the world as full of possibilities. This means leaders see the world as a place where anything can happen and does happen. It means seeing the world as inviting and waiting for our contribution to continue to make it, to create it, to evolve and develop it. It is a world full of excitement and change. And of course there is no proof that the world is like this, but it is the mark of every leader – and indeed every artist – that they believe it is.
So, irrespective of the area managers work in or what responsibility they have, they are leaders by virtue of their commitment to making their area of responsibility better and taking it to new levels of performance and service.
Maintaining what is already in place, while important, takes second place to the drive to constantly seek and pursue betterment.