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Trust, Authority, and Influence: Why Management and Leadership are Different Things

Trust Authority and Influence

All too often, managers both new and old think that, simply because they’ve assumed a position in which they are charged with directing a team of employees, they’re automatically a leader. This couldn’t be further from the truth; a good manager isn’t necessarily a good leader, and vice/versa. There are fundamental differences between both, which we’ll explore in detail below.

Management and Authority

If you’re in a position of management, it’s because your organization put you there. This doesn’t mean that you didn’t earn your title, but it’s important that managers recognize the extent of their influence and where it comes from.

Managerial influence stems from institutional authority. There’s no subtext—employees must respect and comply with your decisions and directives because the company at large demands that they do. It’s a very literal, objective type of influence, used to influence very literal and objective things.

This type of authority is absolutely necessary to run teams, because complex projects require complex coordination, whether your employees like you or not. Not only that, but, as Nathan Gervais with Appnovation points out, the trend of remote work and telecommuting demands employees balance autonomy with the instructions of their managers. Good managers are apt at calling the shots and keeping projects orchestrated whether they are face to face with their employees or they are managing a remote team based all around the globe.

Leadership and Trust

As opposed to a manager, whose influence comes from a position of institutional authority, leaders derive their influence from the trust of others. You can’t make anybody follow a leader, just like you can’t make anybody trust another person. The individual decides whether or not a leader has earned their trust.

This doesn’t mean that leadership is aimless. Effective leaders learn how to invoke desire and motivation via their actions. They display empathy, incite emotion, and drive a team toward a vision instead of just a set of goal.

One place that you see leadership often is in school. Teachers are, by nature, managers of pedagogy and the classroom. Their job is to make sure students pass. However, the teachers that you remember best, perhaps even your favorite teachers, are oftentimes good leaders. Maybe they go above and beyond like Amy Pemberton, Katherine Gibson Howton, or James Butler: Pemberton creates a home-like feel in her classroom, so that it’s inviting and safe; Gibson Howton keeps a snack cabinet for kids that have to deal with food insecurity; and Butler teaches both students and teachers mindfulness and anti-stress techniques.

These teachers went above and beyond driving grades or results. Like most good leaders, they implemented their vision, developed trust with their reports, and have used that in conjunction with great management to drive results.

Achieving Balance Between Management and Leadership

Those who have achieved a balance between these two concepts are good at orchestrating teams as a whole while treating individuals like valued members of those teams. Without leadership, managers can expect employees to work the bare minimum; they’ll never do more than you or the company explicitly require them to do. On the other hand, without good management skills, leaders are the purveyors of dreams that will dissipate as quickly as they’ve appeared.

One way to build rapport with employees while you work is simply to find ways to thank them for their hard work and dedication. Here are five easy ways to show employees that you’re appreciative of them:

  1. Team-Building Events: These are generally fun competitions that are related only tangentially to work. Employees can get to know each other in a different light while simultaneously building personable bonds.
  2. Rewards Programs: Employees go above and beyond when they feel like their company goes above and beyond for them. Recognize outstanding work, even if it’s with something as seemingly benign as a snack bar or coupon program.
  3. Celebrate Employee Anniversaries: Employees that stick with a company for more than just a few years are hard to come by anymore. Recognize commitment and loyalty by celebrating hiring anniversaries for tenured individuals.
  4. Birthday Luncheons: Nothing says “I recognize you as a person” quite like a birthday celebration. It’s best to do them grouped by the month, for management purposes, but they can be quite meaningful to individuals who don’t want to feel like faceless cogs in a machine.
  5. Employee Appreciation Day: Every now and then, do something nice for your employees while everybody is at work. Have a local restaurant cater, give out SWAG, and celebrate those who make your company run.

In the end, employees are there to work, but there’s no separating that from the fact that they’re all individuals with their own dreams, motivations, and even personal issues. Balancing effective management with superb leadership is essential to keeping employees happy and companies running—anything else is subpar.

Published: March 5, 2018

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