Building Exceptional Managers

One would assume that if you find a strong leader in a company, that person is innately able to build great managers. But for some leaders – in fact, many leaders – their abilities rest more in attracting and retaining great talent than teaching that talent the best practices and managerial skills to do their jobs effectively. In these cases you might find a management team of high performing technicians struggling to break through to the next level of performance – executing through others instead of doing the work themselves. Their management toolbox is meagre, and they learn fundamental management tasks slowly, steadily, but painfully, through trial and error. They simply do not know how to access and apply management tactics that have already been proven to work.

Management is about execution. Managers put processes and systems in place to help execute a leader’s vision. They are concerned with controlling and solving problems so that things get done. They are concerned with doing things right and working effectively through others to move the company forward.

Leadership, on the other hand, is about establishing direction and aligning people. Leaders do the right things to produce change and point a company in the right direction. Through their actions, leaders motivate, inspire, and mentor people. Leadership is about strategy and vision. Great leaders rally people to create a better future.[1]

While the words are often used interchangeably, leadership and management are very different. Great leaders and managers both get results, and they do it by working with or empowering others to take action. What differs is how they accomplish the results they strive to achieve.


Source: John Kotter & Peter Drucker

Both strong leaders and strong managers are important to a successful organization.

The challenge is for leaders to recognize that management is a practice different than the practice of leadership.

Other people have already encountered nearly every possible management problem, ad nauseam. And because others have travelled the path, they can share lessons about how best to handle most situations. This is not to say that management is easy – but sometimes the solutions can be quite simple when the manager knows where to look. IF they know where to look. As a leader, you cannot train a great manager just by letting them watch you lead. There are fundamental practices and activities in the management world that do not fall in to the leadership world.

Other than leading by example, how do you enable your managers to be great?


[1] Buckingham, Marcus. The One Thing You Need to Know.

Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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