Why You Never Heard “Follow the Manager”

In case you haven’t noticed in previous posts, I have a thing against managers. Notice I said managers and not leaders. You never hear people refer to Steve Jobs as a great manager do you? Or that a president was nominated to be the Manager of the Century. The fact is, we do not look up to managers; we look up to leaders.

My Beef with Managers:

Managers lead by using a check sheet or to use the more common verbiage of business, a scorecard. They value relationships based on what the team is doing for them and what they are accomplishing. In general, managers are good at one thing, getting a task completed and not a lot more. If you look at their meeting topics, they are usually centered on processes and “past problems”. I am not in any way saying meetings should not discuss these items, but rather, team huddles should not be consumed by these measures. Managers are not coaches, but they are great umpires.

Another thing about managers I have noticed is they do not have a lot of foresight outside of their to-do lists. They understand they need to get certain things done and master certain processes, but oftentimes, they do not have any idea why. They see to the end of the task and are “rev’d” up by the completion of the task, not necessarily the overall impact it may have. That’s why I love the picture with this post. In my experience, managers are often like ants, just doing what they do, following every other ant in front of them.

My Obsession with Leaders:

Leaders are different. For one, they have a passion emanating from them. They understand the task, but measure it against the impact it will have once completed. Most have check lists, but they involve people and the development of those around them. They can play all aspects of the game from being the coach, a player, or even a cheerleader when needed.

Leaders have foresight and the more successful ones are already at the destination, guiding their teams to meet them there. They also understand the extreme importance of honest, sincere, and direct feedback to their team. Their purpose is to coach to success and not to beat into submission. Umpires like calling out to players letting them know when they are right and when they are wrong, coaches (leaders) enjoy evaluating wrongs to make them right and celebrating the wins.

Wrapping it Up:

So in case you are a picture learner, here’s a chart to help you drive the point home:



Umpires Coaches
Task Oriented Impact Oriented
Non-Developers Developer Extreme
By the Book By the Result
Ok with Good Only settles for Great


Take a minute and figure out which side of the fence you’re on. Remember, there is a business need for both, regardless of the project and we will talk about that in the next post. Determine whether the project or job you’re on needs more of a manager or a leader and work toward that goal. Just know that if you are a manager, you’ll never have a song sung about you… well, maybe I should clarify and say you might not ever have a good song sung about you!

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.

For my professional resume, click here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.