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Managing and Leading: Are they the same?

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Are managers and leaders the same? If not, what sets them apart? Managers are often associated with instructing, planning, and facilitating, whereas leaders are often associated with inspiring, guiding, and encouraging. Can you be both? Absolutely. For mortgage branch managers, taking on the role of a leader as well as a manager can help the entire branch to thrive.


Leaders are powerful influencers of a team. They are on the side of their employees and help advocate for their progress. Leaders are known for inspiring others with their vision. When managers look at a given situation, they tend to ask objective questions, like “how” and “when”. Leaders are more likely to ask “what” and “why”. Leaders tend to focus on the big picture, and they get the most from their team through motivating and inspiring, as opposed to instructing.

Managers are known for giving directions to their team, creating systems to keep the office running smoothly, and assigning tasks. They develop strategies to keep their employees accountable. They know how to focus on the smaller details and the individual parts that keep the whole branch running. There is no doubt that these are all positive and necessary qualities to maintaining a successful branch.

Balance is the key here. When managers just manage and do not lead, they can find themselves with a team of uninspired employees. When you balance your management role with the mindset of a leader, you will help your team to do the best work possible.


Present vs. Future

Managers are focused on the present, while leaders set their sights on the future. Neither focus on its own will deliver the best results. If managers are not looking to the future, their branch will inevitably feel the consequences. If a leader is not getting involved with the day-to-day, they may not have a strong enough foundation to support their vision.


Instructions vs. Guidance

A typical management style of communicating is instructing. It is giving employees the information they need, telling them how to do a task, and explaining the way things work. In many cases, this is great. Knowing how to complete and file specific paperwork or utilize the office’s CRM software, for example, are instances where instruction would be the most beneficial. Leaders are often associated with guidance. They give employees the general direction or end goal and allow the employee freedom to navigate on their own. Instead of instructions, they provide motivation and encouragement. This can result in innovative ideas and empowered employees.


Managing Risk vs. Taking Risks

Another major difference between leaders and managers is their approach to risk. Managers manage the risk involved, determining whether it is worth taking. Leaders guide their team to take the right risks and inspiring them to strive for more. In your branch, you need to balance both approaches, encouraging your employees to experiment while advising them to calculate the potential consequences.


In reality, great branch managers are also leaders. The two roles go hand in hand. If your team is not performing at its best, it could be because the balance if off. Even if you do not add it to your official title, make sure your mindset reflects the role of branch manager and branch leader.