Facility Maintenance Decisions

Are You a Manager or a Leader?



One way to tell the difference: A manager lights a fire under people; a leader lights a fire within people.


By Darrell X. Rounds   Facilities Management

OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Leaders Wanted: How FM Has Evolved During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Darrell Rounds

In the world of facilities management, current events have caused many of us to not only revisit the way we lead our teams, but also the way we run our operations. In this ever-evolving profession, we as facilities management leaders do not want to be weighed in the balance and found wanting. It’s important that facilities management leaders position ourselves to lead in the most effective way. Our team members depend on us to do so, and the future of our profession depends upon us.

How is leadership defined? According to one definition, leadership is the act of leading a group or organization. A business context suggests something more specific: Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. In a business setting, this can mean directing workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company's needs and achieve its goals.

The year 2020 provided many business leaders with an opportunity to enhance their leadership. From creating new corporate protocols in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to leading their human resources through diversity, equity, and inclusion activities in the wake of protests against social injustice, leaders have been called on to lead with intensity, intentionality, and authenticity. These events, along with the United States’ tumultuous political stage, have created the need for authentic leadership more than ever before.


People are the most important aspect of any enterprise. One of the most paramount adages for leaders during these times is, “If you take care of your people, then you will take care of your business.” COVID-19, racial injustice, political instability – with these and other variables at play, it’s critical that leaders lead in such a way that team members feel their authenticity and intentionality filled with positive energy. 

Manager or leader?

Are you a manager or are you a leader? Some managers might ask, “Isn’t this profession called facilities management?” Another question might be, “Aren’t FM practitioners called Facilities Managers?” This questioning is not intended to take away from the terminology attached to our profession. Instead, I would like to use it to spotlight the difference between management and leadership. 

What is the difference between management and leadership? Having defined leadership earlier as the art of motivating a group of people to achieve a common goal, management is more focused on controlling things and people to accomplish a set of objectives.

Consider this comparison: “A manager lights a fire under people; a leader lights a fire within people.” Don’t get me wrong. Management and leadership each has its place within the profession and are necessary to achieve success. Something to consider is that although most good leaders are good managers, not all good managers are good leaders.

What are the differentiators? Vineet Nayar, writing in the Harvard Business Review, provides insight into this question.

Value. Managers count value while leaders create value. Many of us have had occasions where we were assigned work by our leaders and given expectations, whether it was a task or a project. Typically speaking, managers assign the work with the expectation of it being completed — counting value — as opposed to leaders, who jump in to assist, especially if the work was challenging — creating value. A manager can tell you when, where, and how to work, but a leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.

Power. Managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence. Do people follow you because they have to? Or do they follow you because they want to? Do the members on your team do what they do simply because it’s their job, or do you inspire them to go above and beyond to achieve excellence and success?


Nayar offers a good test when it comes to determining whether a person creates circles of power or circles of influence: Count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more people who come to you means it is more likely you are perceived as a leader.

Vision. Managers manage work while leaders lead people. In our previous definitions of leadership and management, we concluded that managers are concerned about control and power, while leaders thrive on motivation and influence.

Are your team members talking about the work they’re doing, or are they talking about your vision for the team or organization? Our profession needs leaders who can think beyond problems, have a vision and inspire people to convert challenges into opportunities. In the years to come, it is certain that the facilities management profession will have more than its fair share of challenges and opportunities.


Continue Reading: Management Insights

Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Leaders Wanted: How FM Has Evolved During the Coronavirus Pandemic



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  posted on 3/3/2021   Article Use Policy




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