Are You a Leader?

“Lead, follow or get out of the way!” -George S. Patton

Are you a manager or a leader? As a CIO your job is to lead and maximize the leverage your firm gets from using technology. But can you say that you are truly a leader? What are the distinguishing characteristics of a leader versus a manager?

The following table lists some basic characteristics compiled from some of the top management thinkers (see source notes below).

Managers versus Leaders

Managers Leaders
  • Do things right
  • Do the right thing
  • Are interested in efficiency
  • Are interested in effectiveness
  • Administer
  • Innovate
  • Maintain
  • Develop
  • Focus on systems and structure
  • Focus on people
  • Rely on control
  • Rely on trust
  • Organize and staff
  • Align people with a direction
  • Emphasize tactics, structure, and systems
  • Emphasize philosophy, core values, and shared goals
  • Have a short-term view
  • Have a long-term view
  • Ask when and how
  • Ask what and why
  • Accept the status quo
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Focus on the present
  • Focus on the future
  • Have their eyes on the bottom line
  • Have their eyes on the horizon
  • Develop detailed steps and timetables
  • Develops visions and strategies
  • Seek predictability and order
  • Seek change
  • Avoid risks
  • Take risks
  • Motivate people to comply with standards
  • Inspire people to change
  • Use position-to-position (superior-to-subordinate) influence
  • Use person-to-person influence
  • Require others to comply
  • Inspire others to follow
  • Operate within organizational rules, regulations, policies and procedures
  • Operate outside of organizational rules, regulations, policies and procedures
  • Are given a position
  • Take initiative to lead

Source 1: Writings of Warren Bennis, Burt Nanus, Robert Townsend, John P. Kotter, Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Warren Blank, Jon R. Katzenbach
Source 2: Joseph Boyett & Jimmie Boyett, The Guru Guide (New York:John Wiley & Sons, 1998), p. 16


9 thoughts on “Are You a Leader?

  1. Wise words.

    How I summarize this:

    People want to be led, not managed – they want to sort out for themselves what needs to be done, they want to be empowered, encouraged, motivated, inspired, nurtured, pushed, mentored,…


  2. Arun,

    Your articles are great and informative. With other stuff that I do on a daily basis, now I read your blog daily and wait for new articles to be posted.


  3. Very cool thoughts Arun – glad that I came across your blog. I’m 9 months into being a CIO, and have known some of the above and found out some of them the hard way – will check in from time to time.


  4. All very valid points, Arun, and not restricted to the CIO role. As the CEO of a service provider, I’m challenged daily to find the appropriate mix between managing and leading. Creating forward movement for people,and organizations, rarely offers the luxury of being either/or. Mixing, balancing and varying approaches has worked best for me.

    • Kim,
      I agree that the points are not strictly confined to the the role of CIO but in the corporate world the role of CIO needs to mature and come up to par with other C-level executives. That mindset is not there for some. Thank you for your comment and providing some insight into the mind of a CEO who is also trying to find a balance between managing and leading. I look forward to reading other comments from you.

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