Managers versus leaders

Joey Garcia

I got promoted. I know I should be excited but I’m secretly terrified. I am seriously competent in this industry but I don’t know how to manage people. Most employees here are older than me and upset about the changes senior management has instituted. I like the changes but don’t know how to get others over their anger and disappointment. I need help!

Your first step is to decide who you are: a leader or a manager. That choice will drive how your organization runs every day. The right choice can also create a fast-moving trajectory for your personal and professional success. Consider this wisdom from Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by business consultant Seth Godin: “Leadership is not management. Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done. Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible. Leadership is about creating change.”

There’s a shift underway in business culture, away from a factory model (silos of information, machine mentalities, paycheck stability but no personal agency) into a tribe (mission-driven creativity, flexibility in decision making, a habit of honoring authenticity, an engaged and innovating company culture). Choose your direction by thoughtfully reflecting on this question: Do you want to cling to the past or midwife the future? If you opt to be present in every moment and live into the future, write this Godin quote on a 3-by-5 card and place it somewhere you can see it daily: “Leaders have followers and managers have employees.”

Yes, that means the authoritarian-style of management, in which adults are treated like children who must be told what, when and how to do things, doesn’t belong in the 21st century. Learn instead to hire great people and inspire them to do their best for the greater good. Focus on finding the right fit for each person in your care. Be someone people want to engage with, someone who celebrates innovation that positively transforms individuals and society. Make your company a location so desirable that you receive resumes daily for jobs that are not open.

One last thing: You need a mentor. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, cautions against asking someone you admire but don’t know. In her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sandburg suggests approaching someone you have interacted with professionally with a specific question for which you desire advice. If they respond, write back to express gratitude for the insight. Approach this person again at another time to ask for their input about a new situation. But don’t expect to be parented. Let mentoring experiences arise naturally as needed.

P.S. Congratulations on your promotion!

I am a 59-year-old man who has lost focus after bankruptcy, the death of my two sisters from chronic illnesses, and the death of the love of my life from liver failure due to drinking after 22 years together. Last March, I was reunited with a former co-worker that I had feelings for but never expressed because she was married and I was committed. She says we can only be friends. I told her that maybe in time we could be together. I know she is in a bad way because of her ex. Your thoughts?

Respect her refusal. Do not sabotage your sanity or prolong your grief by investing romantic feelings into a friendship. Hey, control is the opposite of love, so don’t imagine that your love for her should change her mind. In the absence of the romantic partner you long for, in the face of the losses you have experienced, what kind of life will you create for yourself? That’s the most important relationship right now: you and your life.

Meditation of the week
“The wise man knows how to run his life so that contemplation is possible,” wrote the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel. Is there room for reflection in your mornings?

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.