A businessman on a blue background braces himself to pull a sword from a stone, as in the Excalibur myth
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SECI Model

The SECI model illustrates how knowledge is created and shared. Learn how to put it to use for best practices, and how the Japanese concept of “ba” fits in to broaden your perspective.

Johari Window Model

The Johari Window Model is a self-awareness framework that helps you better understand . . . you. Learn how its four quadrants can help you identify gaps between how you see yourself, and how others see you.

Sunk Costs

Wondering if you should continue an investment or look for something new? Sunk costs can have a powerful psychological impact on decision-making. Learn how to recognize them to ensure rational decisions.

CAGE Distance Framework

Want to expand overseas? The CAGE distance framework can help ensure you're constructing a solid global strategy in four areas: cultural, administrative, economic, and geographic. Learn how to leverage useful differences between countries, identify potential obstacles, and achieve global business success.

Groupthink

Groupthink refers to group pressure and the perception of consensus which together lead to ill-formed decisions—or even unnecessary risks. Learn to identify the warning signs of groupthink and apply countermeasures in this online course.

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Solving problems with the best results means using two types of thinking: deductive and inductive reasoning. In this online course, learn to form a broad premise, make observations, and form conclusions from different perspectives.

Critical Thinking: Hypothesis-Driven Thinking

Anyone can come up with a good idea. The real challenge is putting that idea into action. In this online course, explore how to form compelling, testable hypotheses and bring ideas to life in your own organization.

Critical Thinking: Structured Reasoning

Even a few simple techniques for logical decision making and persuasion can vastly improve your skills as a leader. Explore how critical thinking can help you evaluate complex business problems, reduce bias, and devise effective solutions.

Critical Thinking: Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a central business skill, and yet it's the one many people struggle with most. This course will show you how to apply critical thinking techniques to common business examples, avoid misunderstandings, and get at the root of any problem.

How to Dream

Join globally renowned author and Columbia Business School professor Dr. Sheena Iyengar as she explains how to approach your dreams with a new perspective. Learn to reflect on what you long to accomplish and what stands in your way.

Logical Thinking

Logical thinking is at the heart of confident, persuasive decisions. This course will equip you with a five-point approach to more becoming a more logical thinker. Learn to classify ideas and distinguish fact from opinion.

Investing & Diversity: The Changing Faces of Venture Capitalists

Is the venture capital industry embracing diversity in investors? Watch global venture capitalists from around the world discuss the state of things and what needs to be done for a more inclusive future.

Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Ever wonder what makes a great leader? Whether your role requires leadership or not, understanding organizational behavior is useful for your career. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can set you on your way.

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership and management are different skills, but today’s leaders must have both. Try out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to understand the difference, as well as when and why each skill is necessary for motivation, communication, and value.

Strategy: Creating Value Inside Your Company

Have you ever wondered why certain companies are more successful than others? The answer is strategy: internal processes that control costs, allocate resources, and create value. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can give you the tools you need for that strategic edge.

Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

Japanese companies have unique cultural, communication, and operational challenges. But they also have values that have led to remarkable longevity. Check out this seminar to hear how these values help earn trust from overseas head offices and develop employees.

Turnaround Leadership: The Differences Between Japan and the West

What's the best way for leaders to communicate a shift in corporate strategy? How do you even know when it's time for such a change? This course explains how Japan might have one answer, Western companies another.

Conflict Management

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. But they can lead to positive outcomes if they’re managed well. Check out this online course for a two-step process that can help you manage conflict successfully.

Evernote Founder: How Tech Startups Can Break through in Japan

Can startup models from Hollywood and Silicon Valley succeed anywhere? Phil Libin, cofounder and CEO of startup incubator All Turtles, explains how AI can solve everyday problems to bring products to market.

Women Empowerment: Lessons from Cartier

How can women overcome gender inequality and reach their leadership goals? Cartier Japan CEO June Miyachi shares her secret in this special course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Marketing: Reaching Your Target

Every company works hard to get its products into the hands of customers. Are you doing everything you can to compete? In this course, you’ll find a winning formula to turn a product idea into real sales. Follow along through the fundamentals of the marketing mix and see how companies successfully bring products to market.

Marketing Mix

Seeing good products into the hands of customers is no easy task. The marketing mix can help. It's a collection of strategies and tactics companies utilize to get customers to purchase their products or services, and is an essential part of the overall marketing process.

The Principles of Negotiation

With the proper skills and attitude, anyone can become a successful negotiator.  But first, you'll need to learn the basics to prepare for, assess, and respond to offers for the best results. GLOBIS Unlimited can help.

Negotiation: Creating Value

Want to create more shared value between yourself and your negotiation opponent? Discover how cognitive bias affects the judgment of others. Try this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to master the value of negotiation.

Finding Your Life Purpose with Ikigai

Ikigai can guide you in your quest for self-discovery. Listen to Japanese brain scientist Ken Mogi explain why and how.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Confirmation Bias

We all subconsciously collect information that reinforces our preconceptions. It's natural . . . but it does lead to a kind of flawed decision-making called confirmation bias. To become more objective and impartial, check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

An Investor's Lesson to Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have the power to transform societies for the better. But how do you attract investors to start or grow a business? Or to sell one? Check out this seminar for the answers to these and more, straight from a master venture capitalist!

Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is a powerful way to measure progress, identify problems, and meet your goals. Check out this course to learn how data-backed decisions can help you run your business.

Finance Basics: 1

For a healthy mix of quantitative planning, evaluation, and management, you need solid decision-making. And finance is the secret sauce! Get the essentials of finance in this two-part course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Basic Accounting: Financial Analysis

Want to compare your performance vs. a competitor? Or evaluate a potential vendor? Then you'll need to conduct a financial analysis. This course will teach you how to use three financial statements and evaluate financial performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, soundness, growth, and overall strength.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Digital Marketing Psychology to Transform Your Business

How does digital marketing really differ from traditional marketing? How is social media changing things really? And what's going on in Asia?

Pyramid Structure

Having the pyramid structure in your communication toolkit can not only help you approach a problem, but convince others that your solution is valid. Break away from linear thinking and test your logical thinking with this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

AI First Companies – Implementation and Impact

AI is changing the way companies operate. How do you structure teams to increase efficiency?

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

Product Life Cycle

Every product takes a natural course through the market—there's a how, when, and why customers adopt products at different stages. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to find out how a product you use every day is part of this cycle.

Logic Tree

Logical thinking is the most valuable asset any business professional can have. That's why logic trees are such a valuable tool—they can help you identify a problem, break it down, and build it back up to a solution.

MECE Principle

Using the MECE principle can help ensure you categorize without gaps or overlaps. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited for a practical demonstration of how it works!

“Don’t be a manager, be a leader.”

I’ve been working in the field of leadership development for more than twenty years. This is a quote that I’m very familiar with—I’ve said it myself many times in my career. When I shared it in my workshops, people nodded in agreement and eagerly added their thoughts:

Leaders are visionaries, pro-active and forward thinking.

Managers are boring, administrative, obsessed with tasks.

Leaders are empathic, caring, and inspiring.

Managers are bossy, pompous slave drivers.

Plenty of others agree with this distinction, insisting that we should aspire to be “leaders, not managers.” After all, that’s why we talk about “leadership development” not “manager development,” right? The value of leaders over managers has become indisputable when it comes to developing talent in an organization.

Screenshot of Simon Sinek's Twitter feed on managers and leaders: "Management is the practice of manipulating people for personal gain. Leadership is the responsibility of inspiring people for the good of the group."
Catchy, emotional, impactful…but true? | @simonsinek on Twitter
Screenshot of Alexander den Heijer's Twitter feed on managers and leaders: "When I talk to managers, I get the feeling that they are important. When I talk to leaders, I get the feeling that I am important."
Even inspirational speakers like Alexander den Heijer believe in leadership over management. | @purposologist on Twitter

But today, I no longer believe this. The claim that leaders are better than managers is a myth.

New Definitions for “Leader” and “Manager”

Many forward-thinking companies are now consciously using the word “manager” instead of “leader.” Facebook HR executives talk about how to distinguish great managers from okay managers. Google Guides promotes manager development.

When I was working with Gallup for my Strengths Coach certification, I found they kept referring to “helping out the manager.” I had to ask myself: Why the manager and not the leader?

Next Article

Goodbye Micromanagement, Hello Leadership: The New Balance of Power with Remote Work

Sick of micromanagers? Their reign may be at an end in a post-COVID-19 world of remote work.
Illustration of employee pushing back against giant pointing hand of micromanagement

As it turns out, newer organizations have rewritten the definitions of “manager” and “leader.” The new definitions better explain the beauty and power of each role—and show how different they are. It’s a crucial difference that explains a lot when we look at the people on top and where the organization is going.

Great leaders look outward.

Great leaders look outward. They look at competition, look at the future for alternatives, patterns, connections. They create the vision and strategy that will lead us forward.

Great managers look inward.

Great managers look inward. They look inside the company, at each individual and the styles, goals, needs of each person. They help transform unique talents into performance.

So which is better?

You can be a great leader, but not a great manager. This happens when your vision is clear, the strategy is correct, but you can’t get people to work together to get there.

You can be a great manager, but not a great leader. You can get teams together to work to a common goal—the question is, “Is it the right goal?”

You can be neither a good manager nor a great leader. Or, in very rare cases, you could be both. The point is, they’re different.

The difference between managers and leaders is so crucial that Gallup’s book It’s the Manager claims that the quality of managers (not leaders) is actually the single biggest factor in your organization’s long-term success. And when you really think about it, that makes a lot of sense. You need leaders to set the direction, but it’s really the people who bring us to the destination, especially in larger organizations.

Infographic explaining how great leaders look outward and great managers look inward
Adapted by Leo Castillo from Gallup’s “It’s the Manager,” by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter.

The Main Driver of Business? People

People still drive the business. This is why, from a balance sheet perspective, the cost of people is still one of the biggest entries. It is incredibly hard to scale an organization without people. Therefore, how we take care of our people ultimately dictates whether our organization will succeed.

Taking care of people is ultimately the most important role of a manager.

Why? Because how people feel about their manager is likely how they feel about their organization. Does my immediate superior care for me? Does he inspire me? Most employees don’t really look at the company as a whole. As far as they are concerned, the manager is the organization.

Data has proven this, too. In Gallup’s most recent findings, at least 70% of variance in engagement is attributed to the manager. Employees who are disengaged are prone to be more absent, be less concerned with customers and profitability, and ultimately have lower performance. High employee engagement has been correlated to the opposite, plus higher revenue and fewer safety incidents, among other things. Research shows that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

Moreover, the quality of the manager has a major impact on turnover: one out of two employees leave their company to get away from a manager at some point in their career.

So what does all this tell us? That we need managers, not just leaders.

Yes, we need vision, and yes, we need to compete. But we also need people who are talented in developing people. How do we get them? You could go out and look for them. Or you could build them yourself within your organization.

How to Build Star Managers and Leaders

Take a good strong look at your talent development. Specifically, how do you promote people? If you are like most companies, you probably look at the following:

  • KPI performance
    How do your people perform in their functional, non-people-oriented role? Did they hit their sales target, for example? Or save on costs?
  • Tenure
    How long have your people been in the organization?
Traditional talent development had a single upward path for both leaders and managers
Traditional talent development for leaders and managers was a one-size-fits-all approach. | ©Leo Castillo 2021

Although these factors make sense on the surface, this is a strong recipe for turning great performers into bad managers. Specifically, it’s how you get managers who say, “I just want to sell” and “Taking care of people is such a drag.” If you’re hearing this, it indicates a mismatch in the promotion process—an artifact of an old, universally linear career path in which people were promoted to manage others merely because they exceled as individuals.

This approach to talent management is now obsolete. To begin with, there are now paths for higher pay and incentives for those who want to remain individual contributors. People are no longer forced to manage a team in order to grow within the organization. This is how you prevent the infamous “Peter Principle,” through which people are promoted until they become incompetent.

Newer organizations carve distinct career paths for rising leaders and managers—ones that match the new definitions of those roles.

Newer organizations now have separate tracks for strong individual contributors and managers
Newer organizations now have separate tracks for leaders and managers. | ©Leo Castillo 2021

To begin with, these organizations put systems in place to identify and develop managers who may not have the higher performance metrics, but do have the high talent to develop people. We see this pattern in tech companies such as Google, where the manager is not the best programmer, but is the best at taking care of people. Such managers were commonly overlooked for promotion in the past, despite actually being the best fit for the role.

If you’re really lucky, it is possible to find people who are highly talented both as leaders and as managers—what Good to Great considers the “Level 5 Leader.” These rare individuals have a combination of vision and great people skills. If you find them, you would do well to invest and develop them, even consider a special fast track.

The special fast track is for the rare few who are both managers and leaders
The special fast track is for the rare few who are both managers and leaders. | ©Leo Castillo 2021

But don’t make the mistake of thinking everyone can fill both roles!

Manager vs. Leader vs. You

To appropriately identify whether your people are leaders or managers, you must understand what people uniquely do best and match them to the right role. The best way to ensure growth is not to try and make someone who they aren’t.

Instead, maximize their potential by investing in and developing them for the right role. Acknowledge their strengths, their individuality, and use what makes them different. Not everyone actually wants to be a manager (or a leader), after all.

So the next time someone says “Don’t be a manager, be a leader,” don’t buy into the myth. Stop believing one is better than the other—or that everyone can be both. Every organization needs both managers and leaders.

And what about you? Should you be a manager or a leader? Forget “should.” Just make yourself the best version of who you are.

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