by Marrisa Maldonado

The role of a manager and the role of a leader are often thought to go hand in hand. Many individuals think that in order to be a manager, you have to be a leader and vice versa, but the fact of the matter is that both positions have differences in their functionalities and in their duties. All managers have formal authority and status. Three main roles that managers assume are informal roles, interpersonal roles, and decisional roles.

The informal role of a manager concerns how they receive and relay information and how they monitor internal and external information.

Interpersonal aspects of their work include establishment and maintenance of interpersonal relations. Another aspect of their interpersonal duties is to be a figurehead and a liaison for subordinates in a symbolic manner.

A manager’s decisional duty includes entrepreneurship. They handle problems by turning them into opportunities, and they have to be negotiators and resource allocators.

The five major functions that managers perform are planning, organizing, command, coordinating, and control.

When it comes to planning, a manager has to determine an organization’s goals and think of logistics and resources.

Organizing/coordinating means that managers have to adapt and know how to integrate activities and tasks.

Command is based on a leadership function which means that it is the manager’s responsibility to direct and coordinate people and to motivate their employees.

Last but not least is the controlling function which entails monitoring the performance of their employees, correcting, implementing and reinforcing disciplinary actions, as well as keeping the organization on track.

If you are applying to a managerial position, you need to keep the responsibilities and roles that were previously listed in your mind and not take them lightly. Most people believe that if they can lead, then, that makes them a good manager, but this is not the case. The nature of managerial work is supposed to be used as a tool for the organization. Organizations are social interventions and are designed to accomplish tasks through group efforts. Managers are critical tools because managers should be able to understand and predict the behavior of people within organizations.

Basically, if you think that being a manager means separating yourself from your subordinates and interacting with them only when you need to communicate orders, you are in for a rude awakening. I would strongly recommend that you have strong communication skills and be proficient in emotional sensitivity if your goal is to take on managerial responsibilities. When you become a manager, your popularity level will change among your co-workers. If you are a people pleaser by nature, then, I would not recommend a managerial position for you because you cannot please everyone. Part of being a manager is making tough decisions that your employees may not agree with or like. People who want and like positive feedback in exchange for their hard work should not seek out a managerial position because most of the time, no one pats you on the back and gives you positive feedback for your work when you are a manager. If you have been promoted to a managerial position or are seeking employment in this position, keep in mind that the best managers only strive to receive respect from their employees. You should always want respect from others at your job and not be too concerned with employees liking you. Remember that “respect” and “like” are two different things in any aspect of life.

For those of you who are applying for jobs, but are not seeking managerial positions, I have not forgotten about you. Even though you are not seeking a managerial position, you have to be conscious of what type of manager is hiring you or what type of manager you are currently working for.

Managers hold two assumptions about the nature of their employees. A Theory X manager views employees as irresponsible and lazy. These managers assume that people dislike work and will do what is possible to avoid it. They believe that employees must be coerced, threatened, or punished for them to achieve goals.

Theory Y managers hold the assumption that people are responsible and employees are generally ambitious about their work. They also believe that people have self-direction toward completing tasks and goals. Which manager would you prefer? I do not know about the rest of you, but I think that Theory Y manager is the better candidate.

Now for those of you who strive to be leaders in the work place, I commend you for your goal, but I will explain what functions a leader has and you can decide if this is for you or not. For those of you who already identify yourselves as leaders, you can decide what type of leader you are because I will discuss two types of leadership styles as well.

Leaders are individuals who facilitate a movement by a group of people toward a common goal. Leadership is a process of influence. It is important for you to remember that not all managers exercise leadership! I cannot stress that point enough. Leadership is about coping with change and establishing direction. Leaders know how to motivate people by inspiring them to overcome obstacles. In order for an organization to be effective, it needs to have strong leadership and management, but in America, there is under leading and over managing.  There are a lot of leaders that have no formal authority within the workplace and there is nothing wrong with that. You tend to see this type of leadership the most in the work place. In general, most leaders have common characteristics from others which are more ambition, energy, desire to lead, self-confidence, high intelligence, and are high self-motivators. If you fit these characteristics, then, you have the makings of a leader! If you do not have any formal authority at your job, that does not mean that you cannot be a leader. In fact, I would advise you to be a leader even if you are not the boss because we need more leaders.

Now to be clear, I am not saying to overpower or undermine your boss or manager. All I am saying is to be a leader, if you want to be and let your manager do their duties, you must delegate.  In the U.S., most people are transactional leaders. These leaders base their interactions by straightforward exchanges between them and their followers. If their followers perform well, the leader will reward them. The main goal of this type of leader is to keep the behavior of their followers in line with the organization’s goals.

The other type of leader is the transformational leader which is the type of leader who uses vision to instill commitment in their followers.  This type of leader will make changes to an organization in order to change beliefs and attitudes of their followers. One type of leader is not better than the other. It all depends on the followers and the needs of those followers. If you are a follower, it is your personal needs that will drive you to decide which type of leader you will follow. Being a follower is not a bad thing at all because people who are leaders cannot lead if they have no followers. Leaders are not meant to be seen as individuals who can do it all, they need followers to help them carry through with their leadership. Everyone has a purpose and a part to play.

Now that you know the differences between a manager and a leader, you can decide which one you would prefer to be. Do you think it is better in the long run to be a manager or a leader? Do you think that one person can be both a manager and leader at the same time? Is your job or the one you are applying to being directed by a leader or a manager? Think about it. △