Managers Are Unnecessary, But Leaders Are Essential

December 07, 2017
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

A headline in an article posted online by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the other day caught my eye.

“Eighty percent of employees say managers are unnecessary, survey finds.”

The rest of the article followed that statement up with statistics of why that is the case.

  • “75 percent of employees say approachability is the most important quality in an effective manager, but only five out of 10 employees say they have an approachable manager.”
  • “For 93 percent of employees, trust in their direct boss is essential to staying satisfied at work, and over half of employees surveyed say that if they aren’t satisfied at work, they can’t put forth their best effort.” (As I’ve written before, less than half of people in the workplace trust their leaders.)
  • “80 percent of managers surveyed think they’re transparent with their direct reports, yet only 55 percent of employees agree. And while most employees say they feel comfortable communicating, 57 percent of managers wish their employees would be more open with what’s on their mind.” (We’ve read before that only 34% of people feel safe communicating their ideas with leadership.)

For the record, I completely agree with sentiment of those surveyed. Managers are unnecessary.

Leaders, however, are not.

I emphasize this every time I give a speech, no matter the audience: No one wants to be managed. You don’t manage your spouse or child. People want to be mentored. They want to be coached. They want to be led.

Throughout business and organizations, people continue to be taught to be managers, not leaders. They make sure everyone is in their seat on time, they take headcount for the day, they check off the boxes of daily tasks.

Leaders inspire. Leaders care. Leaders help people grow. It’s not about the tasks, it’s about the person.

In the link above, watch a video interview I did with LinkedIn where I talk about the differences between managers and leaders.

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