Leader or Manager? Which are You? – Part 1

I have been in the automotive business for over 30 years. During that time I have come to learn there is a huge difference between managers and leaders. Often these words are used interchangeably. I have seen managers who are, in fact, leaders and so-called departmental leaders who are really nothing more than managers.

The differences in the meaning are slight, but the business results produced by the two are drastically different. The definition of a manager is a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.

A manager controls.

A leader leads.

Managing those below you means overseeing your subordinates. Delegating responsibilities, designating tasks and expecting results in return is the way in which a manager operates. Those working under a manager will do what they are told, not because of any blind devotion, but in expectation of a reward, be it money, accolades, or a possible promotion.

In contrast, the leader is one who has followers. A leader does not have people below them but rather people behind them. Those who work for a true leader are constantly encouraged and inspired, and this is the driving factor behind their work. When you have followers instead of subordinates, they will strive to go above and beyond to achieve a goal, will stay loyal to you through the ups and downs, and will, most importantly, place their trust in you.

Generally, dealerships that make a positive impact in their market area are the ones that are led, not controlled, by people.

Managers sustain what they have!

Leaders shift and change to take their team to the next level.

Leader Versus Manager

Be Open to NEW Ideas

Leaders are change agents; managers maintain the status quo.

Leaders are proud disrupters. Innovation is their mantra. They embrace change and know that even if things are working, there could be a better way. They understand and accept the fact that changes to the system often create waves. Managers will stick with what works, refining systems, structures, and processes to make them better.

I will admit that there have been times in my career when I have caught myself saying, “That’s the way it’s always been done” to someone. When I do, I know I am trying to control, not lead.

When employees or customers challenge the status quo of the way your dealership does things, this is an opportune time to let them lead.

Your employees and customers have great ideas, ones that can make your dealership better. Instead of always saying or thinking, “We do it this way because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” challenge yourself to stop controlling the situation and let someone else have a chance at making the dealership better.

View Your Competition to Learn

Our competitors are awful, a service manager will say. If you are thinking or saying your competitors are awful, you are a manager.

Managers like to control things and one thing they can’t control in business is their competition. A manager will mimic the competencies and behaviors they learn from others and adopt their leadership style rather than defining it.

Leaders pay attention to what the competition is doing right and doing wrong and use this information to learn new and better ways to build their own business. Leaders are self-aware and work actively to build their unique and differentiated personal brand.

This is Part 1 in a three-part article. Be sure to check back next week for Part 2.

Written by Kemp Evans

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