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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
managers and shades of blue, February 24, 2006, 2D.
blue and navy blue…can you see them in your mind? When only
one of these colors is present by itself, one might refer to
the color simply as “blue.” However, when the two shades
are presented together, a different language is needed to
capture the differences between the two. They are both
blue, yet they are different shades of blue. If we use only
the word “blue” to describe both shades, we lose out on the
ability to describe the concepts most fully and
Likewise, the terms manager and leader have similar, yet
different meanings. As an example, think about a “manager”
of a city league softball team. The manager is one who
recruits players, attends managers meetings, submits
rosters, calls and organizes practices, develops and
completes team line-ups before each game, assigns players to
positions and batting order, meets with the umpires, and
provides required equipment and paperwork for play.
Managers are planners and organizers, they foresee
difficulties and exceptions that might hinder the group from
accomplishing its goals and develop contingency plans to
head off potential problems, and they keep the team on
leader does different things from the team manager. The
team leader may not be the same person as the team manager.
The team leader is one who provides a personal example of
excellence and teamwork to teammates. Team leaders provide
vision and inspiration to the team, they hustle hard and
they encourage and motivate teammates to perform to the best
of their abilities and to work for the good of the team.
They are confident in their vision for the team and they
exude this confidence into their teammates. Leaders
communicate well with their colleagues, they lift up and
support teammates, they are humble, and they inspire others
to reach for something bigger and better.
today’s culture, we many times use the terms manager and
leader synonymously. However, as with color, true analysis
of the concepts can only happen when we have words to
describe the different shades. In formal organizations,
managers typically have formal authority—powers that reside
in the position that they occupy within an organization.
Leadership does not come from a position in an organization;
rather, it is earned and given to someone by other
organizational members. It is possible to be a good manager
and not a good leader, a poor manager and a good leader, or
both (or neither). Effective organizations require
effective management and leadership.
cases, the individuals who advance through organizations do
so because they are good managers and leaders. They have
the abilities to plan and organize and the abilities to work
with others, to inspire, motivate, encourage, and
communicate. The challenge for us all is to identify and
develop our strengths and weaknesses as managers AND
leaders. For organizations, the challenge is to identify
and train current and future organizational members with the
skills and abilities required of effective management and
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