Beyond the Build


What Separates Managers and Leaders?

Recently, I was talking with one of our project managers about the integration of good management and strategic leadership with solid customer relationship skills. There’s no doubt this is an awesome (and hard to find) combination.

While I do think good leaders need to have a little DNA for this trait in the beginning, in many of us, it needs to be developed over time. As Peter Drucker says “management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.”

Good managers will execute a mapped out game plan for success. They will ensure everything is productive with minimum roadblocks on the trail, and they will reach goals. These folks are coached when needed and they influence others.

From solid managers, true leaders tend to emerge.

Leaders are critical thinkers, more visionary types. They tend not to worry as much about titles. They inspire, working to create more leaders.

While in a perfect world, all managers would be good leaders, it just does not happen that way. To me, good organizations must have both types in proper balance, with all driving profits to the bottom line. Ideally, while facing what might be choppy seas and unknowns, leaders and managers are sharing knowledge and giving each other a pat on the back. They are getting to the place where “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

The bottom line? We’re all human and thus different. Our leadership and our management skills change with experiences, age and personal situations. The top leader of an organization is always a step ahead, guiding, encouraging and shoring up. Most importantly, this leader has the insight and passion to be grooming replacements, “passing the baton” so to speak.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.