Management Articles


Are You a Leader or a Manager?

By: Brian Ward

Brian Ward is a principal in Affinity Consulting. He helps leaders, teams and individuals acquire new knowledge and wisdom through their consulting and educational work. He can be reached at t

When you become a leader, you take on a great promise to change the world for the better.

If your reaction to this statement is ‘I’m only managing an organization, or department, or project, I’m not out to change the world’, then I respectfully suggest that you learn to be a good manager, but not a leader.

Leaders cause positive change to happen, through people.

Managers control things.

That’s it.

The world needs great leaders. It has its fill of managers.

If you feel that you are not sure whether you are truly committed to becoming a great leader, if you have not yet made that decision, I would like you to take a look at two scenarios:

What if you were to make a total commitment to becoming a great leader? Project yourself ahead 3 to 5 years from now. You have become a great leader. Visualize what positive impact you are having on the world around you…
  • How has the world benefited from your actions?

  • What does that feel like?

  • What type of people are you associating with?

  • Who are you collaborating with?

  • Who else is totally committed to the same cause as you?

  • What positive actions are you and these people taking?

  • How are other people responding to your successes?

  • How worthwhile and meaningful has your life become?

  • What does that feel like?

  • How are you growing and developing?

  • How does all this differ from today?

What if you were to be less than fully committed to becoming a great leader? Project yourself ahead 3 to 5 years from now. You are in a leadership position. Visualize how things will be…
  • Have things changed much, or not at all?

  • Who are you associating with…perhaps others who are also less than fully committed?

  • What positive impact have you had on the world around you? Less than you desired?

  • How do you feel about that?

  • How worthwhile and meaningful has your life become?

  • How does all this differ from today?

I have no doubt that the first scenario is one that you desire, as we all do. The second scenario is one that you probably want to have no part of.

The difference between the two scenarios is so stark, so dramatic, that sometimes we find it difficult to see ourselves in the first one, and easier to see ourselves in the second.

But for many of us, the second scenario is totally unacceptable.

Many leaders however get caught somewhere between the two scenarios, and feel at a loss about what to do.

So they reach out to ‘techniques’ to solve their dilemma. I have seen many leaders get caught up in fads, and I also have had the pleasure of being associated with leaders who knew the distinction between WHAT they were attempting to achieve and HOW they achieved it.

That led me to crystallize my thoughts and experiences into 5 key facets of quality leadership. Keep these facets foremost in your mind, and you won’t go astray.

By exploring these areas you will be led to discover insights and above all take action concerning five key facets of your leadership…
FOCUS: Developing your leadership focus, understanding its true significance to the world around you and how truly committed you are to achieving it

AUTHENTICITY: Discovering how much you know about yourself as an authentic leader, your beliefs and values, your strengths and weaknesses and how others perceive your authenticity

COURAGE: your level of courage and persistence, your ability and willingness to identify and stop doing those things that don’t support your focus, to start doing some new things that will support it, and to improve dramatically in other areas that will benefit your focus, both personally and organizationally

EMPATHY: your ability to listen to and work through other people, to garner support for your focus, to develop an atmosphere of collegiality and inclusiveness, and to empower others who share your focus

TIMING: your sense of timing in getting things done when they need to be done. Your ability to get off the treadmill and concentrate on what matters most, and to enable others to do the same
The world needs great leaders…if you want to become one, explore these facets.

A word of caution however…once you start asking questions of yourself in these five areas, you will find that there will be no turning back. Proceed only if you are serious, only if you truly have the desire to become a great leader…

© Copyright 2003 Affinity Consulting. All rights reserved.

Other Articles by Brian Ward

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


Place "+" (without the quotes) in front of words that must appear; "-" to exclude articles with certain words; and put double quotes around phrases. For example, fantastic search will find all case studies with either the word "fantastic" or "search" (or both). On the other hand, +fantastic +search will find only case studies with the words "fantastic" and "search". "fantastic search" will find only case studies that with the phrase "fantastic search". Note: Searches will not find words, such as 'management', that appear in more than half of the articles or words less than five letters long.


Would you like us to consider your own articles for publication? Please review our submission and editorial guidelines by clicking here.