It’s the natural order of things that when you start working, you report to someone. Naturally, that person is your boss.
Your boss can be your manager, your director, CEO, and so on. Typically, people either hate or love their managers or bosses – there’s no in-between.
We all love proactive, helpful managers. The bosses who are willing to guide us and make sure we become good at what we do.
These are who we call leaders.
But then, there are those who have no idea what they’re doing, and neither help nor guide their teammates/subordinates.
Everyone hates them, these ‘managers’.
I’m here to help you realise why leaders are always better than managers – if you don’t already know the difference.
Let’s start with typical managers in most organisations. Here’s how most managers work:
Most managers are really just that – managers. They manage the team, making sure everyone delivers on time, just so that their bosses don’t come after them.
What does that tell you about the manager? Yes, that they’re worried about themselves more than they are about you.
A typical manager would consistently demand results without giving proper guidance. They set tasks and deadlines without considering whether you have the capability to complete them.
It’s extremely frustrating, isn’t it? I mean, it’s a lose-lose situation.
If you tell your manager you’re unfamiliar with the task, you’ll get an earful. On the other hand, if you don’t tell them and do a bad job, you’ll get your ass handed back to you too. It’s a rock and a hard place.
Another thing when dealing with managers is this – your wellbeing isn’t as important as results.
I’m talking about your physical and mental health. Did you know that most managers allow you to take medical leave regular illnesses but not mental health issues?
Mental health is a serious problem these days, due to the incredible stress most of us face at work. Occasionally, some employees feel so overwhelmed that they need a few days off to de-stress.
What most managers don’t realise is that mental health is just as important as physical health. There shouldn’t be restrictions on taking medical leave for it too.
If medical leave for mental health can’t be justified to HR, they should at least grant you a sabbatical (unpaid) leave.
An exhausted mind won’t get anything done. If your manager can’t see that, then my advice is that you should probably work someplace else.
Now let’s talk about leaders. Leaders are awesome.
They lead, but they don’t micromanage. They understand that for certain things, you know best.
They also understand that sometimes, great things take time. Say, you’re working on a project for weeks/months, but you haven’t been able to deliver in time, simply because there’s just too much to do. You want to ensure that everything is up to the client’s expectations.
A leader would know that you’re doing your best and find ways to help you so that you’re not overwhelmed. A leader will constantly root for you and tell you that you can do it, that you’re doing an incredible job.
It may not sound like much, but these words of encouragement can boost your confidence and morale.
If for any reason you find yourself unable to perform, instead of berating you for it, a leader would try to understand the reasons behind it.
They’ll suggest things which can help you get back on track, or perhaps even offer to help you with your tasks.
Furthermore, a leader is someone who recognizes your strengths. A true leader knows that nobody is perfect, but that someone with a certain talent or aptitude can be difficult to find.
By developing your experience and skills according to your strengths, they’re not only helping develop the organisation, but you too.
Here’s my experience with my past manager: I come from the HR sector, and many people don’t realise that it’s a highly stressful working environment. Back when I just started out in this industry, I was working under a ‘manager’.
Those days, I was suffering from severe depression and was on antidepressants. On good days, I was fine, productive even. However, on bad days, I was on the point of breaking down.
The stress from my manager did not help. My request for a week of unpaid leave for my own mental health was rejected. They justified it by saying that nobody could take over my responsibilities.
It was tough enough to have your mind act against you. But not being able to take leave when you have depression was excruciating.
In the end, I left my previous job. Afterwards, I found myself working with someone who appreciates my effort and cares for my overall health as well.
Now I hope I’ve given all of you a glimpse of the differences between a leader and a manager. To recap, a leader should be someone who helps you realise your potential and help you grow. They make you wake up every day with purpose, and you’re happy to go to work because of them.
However, ‘managers’ create toxic working environments by causing unnecessary stress. They make you lose motivation every day at work.
I’m sure most people would love to work with leaders instead of managers. Let’s face it – leaders make you a happier, more productive person.