Skip to content
May 7, 2012 / mike54martin

Follow the Leader

There are many styles of leadership and many ways that people try to describe them. One of the least effective descriptions is the so-called three main leadership styles of autocratic, democratic or free reign leadership. When applied to the modern workplace about the only value these descriptors have is to show which style is currently in vogue in management today.

That’s easy because unless you are running a paramilitary organization or a kindergarten it would have be the democratic or participatory style of management. That’s mostly because of the disasters that companies and organizations have put themselves through when the managerial powers are given to dictatorial managers or to the children in the classic laissez faire model.

But there’s a better way to describe a leader and to me when it comes to the modern workplace I do want results but I also want someone who can get people to follow them. I want someone who is not just good at the x’s and o’s but who also has a vision of where they and the organization can be in the future. In other words I just don’t want a good manager. I want a leader. And there are a lot of differences between a manager and a leader.

One of the best lists that I’ve seen on the difference between a manager and a leader was prepared by Alan Murray, Deputy Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal and a well-respected author on management issues. He said:


  • 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.

Given those choices who would you rather follow? A manager or a leader?

This post originally appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: