Executive Briefings

Leaders and Managers: They Aren't the Same Thing

Every company needs the kind of people who handle day-to-day management tasks, says Joe DeSantis of Office Depot. But there's also a critical need for true leaders, who can inspire an organization to achieve more.

There's a significant difference between managers and leaders, according to DeSantis. The first are "doers" - the kind of employees who get things done on a day-by-day basis. The second constitute another breed. True leaders, says DeSantis, "are the motivators, and they set the expectations for their organizations."

Companies need both traits, but organizations today tend to be skewed toward the manager type. There aren't enough individuals who can push employees to achieve larger corporate goals. And the problem doesn't just exist at the very top of an organization. Mid-level managers, too, need that special knack for leading people, and creating an environment that is"self-managed."

The true motivator is one who can inspire and relate to people. Executives often fall into the trap of believing that they need to micro-manage, but their efforts won't be sustainable. When such a person leaves the company, "you've got this house of cards that falls down." Any short-term gains that were made during that individual's tenure are destroyed. Leaders, by contrast, ensure that others can carry on in their absence."With a good leader," says DeSantis, "you're not going to hear 'I.' It's 'we' and 'team.'"

Finding people with the right qualities isn't easy. The task begins with the interview process, and continues as managers are encouraged to grow with their organizations. They must be granted the freedom to take chances and make key decisions, says DeSantis. Those who resist the temptation to manage every element in their organization "become more comfortable, and better leaders over time."

To view this video interview in its entirety, Click Here 

There's a significant difference between managers and leaders, according to DeSantis. The first are "doers" - the kind of employees who get things done on a day-by-day basis. The second constitute another breed. True leaders, says DeSantis, "are the motivators, and they set the expectations for their organizations."

Companies need both traits, but organizations today tend to be skewed toward the manager type. There aren't enough individuals who can push employees to achieve larger corporate goals. And the problem doesn't just exist at the very top of an organization. Mid-level managers, too, need that special knack for leading people, and creating an environment that is"self-managed."

The true motivator is one who can inspire and relate to people. Executives often fall into the trap of believing that they need to micro-manage, but their efforts won't be sustainable. When such a person leaves the company, "you've got this house of cards that falls down." Any short-term gains that were made during that individual's tenure are destroyed. Leaders, by contrast, ensure that others can carry on in their absence."With a good leader," says DeSantis, "you're not going to hear 'I.' It's 'we' and 'team.'"

Finding people with the right qualities isn't easy. The task begins with the interview process, and continues as managers are encouraged to grow with their organizations. They must be granted the freedom to take chances and make key decisions, says DeSantis. Those who resist the temptation to manage every element in their organization "become more comfortable, and better leaders over time."

To view this video interview in its entirety, Click Here