Great Manager or Great Leader?

We have been talking about the differential between these two for some time as it relates to growing your people and the store. Interestingly enough, both managers and leaders have very distinct roles and importance in the dealership. Identifying those differences is a key component because proper utilization of each is paramount for getting things done in an efficient and effective manner.

Impact GroupThe most important difference between a great manager and a great leader is one of focus. Great managers look inward. They look inside the dealership, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs, assets and liabilities and motivation of each person. These differences are small, subtle, but great managers need to pay attention to them. These subtle differences guide them toward the proper way to release each person’s unique talents into performance and employee satisfaction.

Great leaders, by contrast, look outward. They look out at the competition, out at the future, out at alternative pathways forward into store growth opportunities. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers and activators of energy and synergy. When played well, this is, without doubt, a critical role. But it doesn’t have much to do with the challenge of turning one individual’s talents into performance enhancement.

Great managers are not mini-executives waiting for leadership to be thrust upon them. Great leaders are not simply managers who have developed sophistication and charisma. The core activities of a manager and a leader are simply different. It is entirely possible for a person to be a brilliant manager and a terrible leader. And, it is just as possible for a person to excel as a leader and fail as a manager. Of course, a few exceptionally talented individuals can and do excel at both.

If a dealership confuses the two roles by expecting every manager to be a leader, or if they define a “leader” as simply a more advanced form of “manager,” then the all-important “catalyst” role will soon be undervalued, poorly understood and poorly played. Gradually the store’s momentum will fall apart.

Chuck Barker is CEO of his two companies Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with a Fortune 200 corporation, Harris Corp., to the automobile business where he has performed all management positions. His firms specialize in growing people and dealerships. He delivers Leading Edge Sales Training Programs, Customer Relationship Strategies, Management Leadership Workshop Programs and Dealer/Principal consulting assistance for the automobile industry. Chuck has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled Dealership Success Guide at www.impactgroupcrm.com/impact-summit/ .

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