A world-known debate. What makes a Leader and what makes a Manager? What’s the difference, seen through the eyes of the IntelligentBee culture.

Of course, there are tons of content on the internet about this subject, all with reasonable and well documented arguments.

What’s better?

I think that’s an example of the wrong question. Actually, it’s incomplete. I’ve seen this question (especially in the title/header) on countless posts and I think it’s not relevant.

Better would be: What’s better in your current stage of the company?

There are many ways to differentiate a Manager and a Leader. For example, if we’re talking about strategy vs tactics, someone said once that the difference between Manager and Leader is: if you’re in a forest, a good Manager will tell you how to get from point A to point B with minimum of resources and in the shortest time possible. A Leader will tell you if you’re in the right forest or not.

Of course, that’s a way of looking at things. I’ll try to give my 2 cents on this from a different standpoint : IntelligentBee culture.

At IntelligentBee, we’re in a stage of growth with our company where the balance between management and leadership that we need from our middle and top managers is more inclined towards leadership. When I say “more” I mean a lot.

Encourage bottom-up communication in your team VS communicate only with your direct

The main point is: we want all teams to be unified and work as a whole. This came from the simple statement we agreed on a while ago: we come to the office because we like what we do and we like the people we work with. That is the main trigger that created our awesome culture based on the 4Hs: Humble, Honest, Hungry, Happy that kept our team highly motivated and engaged.

We think the team communication has a crucial role. We all love to feel like part of a tight team that has a purpose tied to its existence. When everything that happens or is about to happen in that team is first discussed inside the team rather than outside, team will start seeing the manager more as a leader. Regardless of its nature: plans, successes, fails, personal schedule that prevents planned things from happening, mistakes done, lessons learned, you name it.

Plan with your team VS assign work to your team

This comes right off the first one above. When everyone in your team participates in planning and decision making process, everyone will feel more empowered — therefore motivated to push for the team. We don’t particularly like situations when managers talk only with their superior/direct, and make a decision only based on that. Afterwards it’s just a simple “telling” to the team what is to be executed. No one likes to only execute. This of course is a good point to consider also for the superior/direct. A simple question to the manager: What’s your team thinking about this? should immediately trigger at least a question if not the whole pre-decision process involving the team. If the team participates in the pre-decision phase they will start looking at their manager more like a leader.

Serve your team VS your team serves you

A manager should be part of the team. One of her duties is that the team has all necessary resources to do their job. Although it might sound like a cliche, it has never been more true. But that’s not enough. Helping your team deliver by involving hands-on when something is at risk of being not finished on time, acknowledging everyone’s involvement, creativity and effort — only a few of the things that will make the team look at their manager more like a leader.

These are just a few traits of the managers we want to have in IB, traits that will make them more like leaders to their teams. It’s a well-known fact that employees stay or leave the company because of their managers. This is crucial for the culture we have and want to preserve in our company.