Using Surveys to Assess Leaders Versus Managers

Employee Assessments
June 27, 2013

At one point in our career, we have all had “that boss”. You know the one I mean; the one who was shortsighted and reactionary. The one who micromanaged rather than trusted you to get the job done. The one who discouraged ideas rather than encouraged them. The one who asked a lot of questions but never listened. The one who failed to inspire you.

Or maybe they did inspire you — to seek new opportunities elsewhere.

No doubt about it, your boss can make or break your job.

Changing Management Style

So what is your management style? Are you a leader or a manager? Do you know the difference between the two? Certainly management and leadership go hand in hand, but today’s businesses are looking for managers that can lead.

Do you want to know why? Great leaders know how to:

  • Stay ahead of the competition in today’s global market.
  • Inspire employees and improve performance.

How? These leaders are vision driven. They can transform an idea into a cause and inspire others to jump on the bandwagon. They provide purpose.

While leaders are vision driven, managers are goal driven. Goals are good. Goals are necessary in order to succeed. Managers plan, organize and coordinate. But they also need to be strategic thinkers.

In his book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis1 composed this list of differences between managers and leaders:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

It is not uncommon for businesses to have leaders at the top with managers reporting to them, but today’s businesses are looking to streamline processes in order to be more efficient. Certainly this was evident during the recent recession when many businesses cutt out middle management.

Today’s mangers must be able to provide a clear strategy, as well as be able to implement and manage it. They need to be persuaders rather than dictators to effectively influence others to contribute to the common goal.

New Leadership Skills

There are two main skills that differentiate a leader from a great leader: creativity and compassion.

Great leaders are creative thinkers. They anticipate problems and envision needs before the competition does. These leaders are observant and attuned to what is going on around them.

While they might have their opinion of the next “new thing,” they are open-minded and encourage input from others. This creates respect and trust as well as buy-in.

Great leaders are compassionate. They truly care about others on their team. They understand their needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Because they are just as concerned about the individuals in their group as with the matter at hand, they have higher levels of employee performance and satisfaction.

Transformational Leaders

Today’s most successful leaders are what some call “transformational leaders.” These leaders are passionate and their enthusiasm is infectious. They energize those around them to bring about positive changes.

In his book, Transformational Leadership, Dr. Ronald Riggio2 puts it this way: “Through the strength of their vision and personality, transformational leaders are able to inspire followers to change expectations, perceptions and motivations to work towards common goals.”

He outlines 4 components to transformational leadership:

  1. Influence: the leader is a role model for others to follow.
  2. Motivation: the leader inspires and motivates followers.
  3. Consideration: the leader is genuinely concerned about the needs and feelings of followers.
  4. Stimulation: the challenges followers to be innovative and creative.

In short, transformational leaders give the group and each individual a clear purpose.

Assessing Leadership Culture

What type of leadership culture does your workplace value? For instance:

  • Are creativity and collective input encouraged?
  • Are interpersonal skills valued as much as talent?
  • Is cooperation valued more than competition?
  • Is service valued more than profits?

Identifying your leadership culture will be important to developing leadership skills in your employees. Do you know what leadership skills to look for?

Leaders need to be:

  • Purpose driven.
  • Strategic thinkers.
  • Good listeners.
  • Open to new ideas and value change.
  • Attentive to the needs of others.
  • Enthusiastic and positive.
  • Creative and passionate.
  • Inspirational and motivational.

Are you ready to make some changes? Do you know where to start? The best place to start is by taking a pulse of your workplace environment. You need feedback.

I am not talking about an employee opinion or a performance review here. What you need is a spherical evaluation of your managers. You need a 360-degree review.

A 360 collects feedback from the employee’s superiors, peers, subordinates and other primary sources of contact (perhaps key customers and vendors) to portray a well-rounded view about their communication, leadership, and management skills. It helps the employee see different perspectives of their performance.

The goal is to provide constructive feedback that will help the employee improve and develop professional skills. According to Christian Vanek, founder and CEO of Alchemer, a 360 review should focus on three key pieces of feedback:

  1. Identifying a starting point for development of new skills.
  2. Measuring progress as the subject works on skills over time.
  3. Identifying the personal blind spots of behavior and the impact that everyone has but never notices.

Leadership Development

To grow your potential leaders, you will need an employee development plan.

It is never too early to start training and demonstrating leadership skills. Start as soon as day one, or even during the interview process! This will establish and accelerate your culture of leaders.

Set up a mentoring program where a senior leader develops a relationship with a less experienced or potential new leader. Demonstrate to your leaders that their growth is dependent on those around them.

Establish a culture of growth and leadership. Encouraging your employees to grow will instill loyalty. In doing so, you are likely to increase employee performance and satisfaction. Their growth is important to your success!

One more thing – leaders need the courage to act. Encourage your future leaders to take chances without retribution. Entrust them to act without having to ask for permission and embrace acceptance when things go awry.


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