Are you Leading or Managing? (and why it matters)

Pop quiz: Which is more important, leading or managing? Ah, this is a trick question. The answer is both, but not at the same time.

People use the word “leader,” “manager,” and “boss” interchangeably. Each of these words can be formed as a noun or a verb. For instance, a leader is a person (noun) who leads (verb). A manager is a person (noun) who manages (verb). And a boss is a person (noun) who bosses around (verb). Although these words have much in common, they are not the same.

Leading is not Managing, and Managing is not Leading

“Management is the sorting of tasks to be done. Leadership is recognizing which tasks are important,” advises Douglas Vermeeren in his book Personal Power Mastery. To be an effective compliance officer, both leading and managing are critical skills. But to be the most effective compliance officer you can be, you must learn to differentiate between leading and managing, and consciously choose which role you are embodying during important interactions.

The Tasks

As leading and managing are both verbs, both indicate actions. The actions associated with leading and managing are different. Leading involves:

  • Determining the vision

  • Seeing the big picture

  • Describing the vision or big picture to others

  • Choosing between outcomes

  • Choosing between possible paths to an outcome

  • Choosing what to value

  • Making hard choices

  • Delivering bad news

  • Delivering good news

  • Taking responsibility for outcomes

Managing involves taking the vision of the leader and then:

  • Delegating and assigning tasks to achieve the leader’s vision

  • Overseeing timelines and deliverables

  • Ensuring that the team is on track to meet deadlines

  • Keeping him/herself on track, as well as the team on track

  • Reporting back to the leader about the status of tasks

Both are Important

Visions don’t get accomplished without the underlying steps being taken successfully. Likewise, managing without a vision creates stagnation instead of movement. You may move between being a manager, leader, and worker throughout the day. The trick is to thoughtfully determine who you need to be in each moment.

This applies strongly in compliance. For instance…