Leader or Manager. What are you?

Leader or Manager. What are you?

Disclaimer: No Dutch or persons from Holland were injured in making this post

Imagine yourself as a famous track star.  You’re about to run an important race. Just before the race starts, you go to your locker, pull out a pair of wooden clogs, and head to the field.  Yea, you know it. They’re beautiful. Good luck with those clogs, Claude.

Political writer Ken Adelman once said, “A leader knows what’s best to do; a manager knows merely how best to do it.” In other words, a leader will not put on wooden clogs when spiked shoes are needed.  Yet all too often, when dealing with people, we attempt to use management (in this case wooden shoes) when leadership (spiked running shoes) is really needed. We then wonder why we fail to get traction with people and it hurts more than our feet when they reject our leadership.

When we are in a management mode we think, “Be efficient.” You see, management is the art of being efficient and resourceful with things. We’re efficient with our time.  A good janitorial service will cut time out of the service. A good handyman service will cut windshield time out. We cut out a step in a process and we increase our efficiency.  We complete tasks quickly.  We are resourceful and efficient with our budgets.  The whole concept of management revolves around being efficient. Being efficient with a task or project is a good thing.

However, now apply a management perspective to dealing with people.  Look at these scenarios and see if you can anticipate the results or outcome from being efficient with people.

A dad is on his way to work when his teenage  daughter says, “Dad, I have a problem I need to discuss.” The dad asks what the problem is and prescribes a quick solution so he’s not late for work.  Problem solved right?  He was efficient right?

A facility manager wants to change the janitorial service.  Thinking efficiently, he calls a quick meeting, tells everyone what he wants done and says, “By the way, it’s mandatory.” He solved his problem, right?  He was efficient in kicking off the new program, right?

A customer calls you on the telephone to complain about the janitorial service. You pass him on to someone else.  Efficient, right?

national-cleaning-services-leader-manager-chartHow would you guess each of these scenarios turned out?  Take for instance the example with the father and daughter.  In each of the scenarios the answer to the questions is “yes”- yes, the person was efficient.  Yes, the person was a good manager.  The person quickly dealt with the problem and was able to move on to the next fire. Each scenario dealt with people and was handled in an efficient, time saving, management perspective. Now go ask each person how they felt, and whether or not they would sing your praise.

Dealing with people is very much different from dealing with things.  Being efficient with people creates indifference, resentment and even anger.  Things do not come with emotions or core human needs like people do. Things lack the complexities of human self-esteems. People simply are not things. They are complex creatures of emotion.  The next time you find yourself in a frustrating situation dealing with people, figuratively look at your feet and make sure you are not sporting a pair of wooden clogs.

Putting on a pair of leadership shoes means we are willing to pay the price and sacrifice time and efficiency to be effective with people.  Notice the word “effective.”   Being effective takes time.  The graphic shows the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Being a leader requires you prepare and you put yourself in the person’s shoes for whom you are trying to influence for good. Management ignores the law of preparation because the focus is on being efficient.  Management’s base is the law of action. Get things done and get them done quick. We are all required to work from a circle of influence. Matching management with tasks and leadership for people assures you get the cooperation you need from others to help you, and efficiency when you need to knock out a task or improve a process.

Here are several differences between a manager and leader.

The Manager… The Leader…
  • Administers
  • Maintains
  • Finds efficiencies
  • Focuses on tasks & systems
  • Relies on authority
  • Looks at the immediate
  • Has eye on the bottom-line
  • Does things right
  • Innovates
  • Prevents & develops
  • Finds effectiveness
  • Focuses on vision & people
  • Inspires trust
  • Looks at the long-term
  • Has eye on the horizon
  • Does the right things

Both management and leadership are important depending on the situation, and the two skills aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be great manager and a great leader. We error when we are efficient with people. So the next time you work with people, make sure you kick off the wooden clogs and put some effective running shoes on. Otherwise, you will fail to get traction with people and someone is going to get hurt (namely you, even if it is just your ego)!


Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, salesforce.com deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

Latest posts by Marc Collings (see all)

Tagged with
National Janitorial Company Awards and Affiliations Varsity Facility Services

Contact Us
1055 South 3600 West | Salt Lake City, UT 84104

Copyright© 2018 Varsity Facility Services, a KBS CompanyVarsity Facility Services Tech SupportVarsity Facility Services Samsung Support