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Tip 126: The Manager Title: Should It Be Retired?

Working with global leaders, I am often asked this question: “What is the difference between a manager and a leader?” To answer, a leader is future-focused, looking at and working toward the long-term goals and plans for the organization; a manager understands the goals and outcomes for the team and manages their resources (time, money, people, talents, materials) to optimize performance toward those goals.

Management thinkers take this one step further. They describe the functions of mangers into five significant roles: plan, organize, coordinate, command, and control, and suggest three reasons why the time has come for the word manager to be retired.

  1. No one really wants to be managed anymore. The notion of management conjures up the perception of being micromanaged, keeping people from innovated, creative, and out-of-the-box thinking. Workplaces are now seen more as networks than as hierarchies.

  2. No one really wants to manage other people anymore. While some people may get a rush from the “power of the title” or from telling others what to do, employees don’t need to be managed. The want to leverage their talents and develop their skills. They need guidance, coaching, and growth opportunities.

  3. The word manager fails to capture the work that our employees increasingly do. With rapid change and complexity in our organizations, we are often navigating endless waves of disruption and uncertainty. Our jobs are now defined by taking vague problems that we might not know how to solve and figuring out solutions.

If not manager….then what? My suggestion would be Team Leader; Coach; Talent Developer! These send a positive and influential signal that regardless of title, your role is to LEAD rather than making sure people are doing what their job descriptions have assigned them to do. As organizations shift, our mindsets must shift as well, creating and encouraging new opportunities for inquisitiveness, innovation, and thought.


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