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“I consider Bob Burg to be without a doubt, one of the world's leading experts on networking.”

~ Dr. Ivan Misner, NY Times Bestselling Author and Founder of BNI

Leaders Inspire What The Manager Cannot

February 1st, 2013 by Bob Burg

Steve KeatingSteve KeatingI loved this recent quote on Twitter by my great friend, Leadership Authority, Steve Keating:

“People do not commit to a manager, they comply with a manager. People make commitments to a leader.”

In my opinion – it aligns perfectly with one of my favorite sayings from a phenomenal mentor of mine, Dondi Scumaci who says:

“Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.”

Of course, there’s a time and place for most everything, including compliance.

Yet, compliance doesn’t inspire. Difficult to imagine that it would, or even could.

Inspiration and commitment are forever entwined. And, this commitment is inspired by leaders; those of high influence; not due to their position but rather their character…and their ability to focus on the needs, wants, desires and values of others.

Who are the leaders that come to your mind (past and present, historical or from first-hand knowledge) who were/are exceptional at inspiring commitment?

What do you see as their duplicatable traits and characteristics that we can all learn from?

30 Responses to “Leaders Inspire What The Manager Cannot”
  1. Roger Boneno said at 8:33 am on

    People commit to a Leader because a Leader can articulate, though words AND actions, the WHY for the team to work towards a goal; a “why” that benefits everyone. A MANAGER will SPEAK all day about the “why,” but usually their ACTIONS are focused too much on their HOW.

    People do not get inspired by a “how.”

  2. Doug Wagner said at 1:28 pm on

    I often wonder if it has become convenient to slam managers at the expense of leaders. Often what we are really doing is comparing great leaders with poor managers. We forget that there are plenty of really bad leaders as well.

    The second part is where is the boundary between manager and leader? Both of these roles are absolutely essential in any organization and they often blur a bit by the overlapping definitions and the fact that most people are a blend of the two.

    I like Marcus Buckingham’s definitions in “First, Break All The Rules”. That book totally changed my opinion of the importance of great managers and what they really do.

    I sense a blog post coming on… Thanks for the post Bob. Makes us think every time.

  3. Bob Burg said at 1:33 pm on

    Roger: Very cool thoughts. Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. Bob Burg said at 1:36 pm on

    Doug: I think you are right and that does happen. Though, please understand that my intent in the post was not to slam managers. There is a time and place for everything and managers serve a very important purpose. The intent was simply to show that the difference between the two manifests differently and that commitment is most often the result of leadership, not management. Certainly, though, managers also play a very important role. Indeed, I look forward to reading your blog post on the topic!

  5. Bob: Thank you for your distinction between complying with management and committing to leadership. For me the issue also relates to the nature of the authority involved.

    Management operates through a command and control structure, where compliance reflects a subjugation of free will; and the stultification of motivation that that brings.

    Whereas leadership involves freely “acting on one’s own authority”; authenticity; and where purpose and values set a clear and unambiguous direction.

    Hence, we align with leaders through free will; via the synergies, purpose and values that resonate with us. These combine to set a clear direction. It is ultimately the example and character of the leader that we engage with; commit to; and follow.

  6. Bob Burg said at 4:02 pm on

    Denis: Thank you. Great and important points!

  7. Doug Wagner said at 4:24 pm on

    Bob: I didn’t mean to imply you specifically were slamming managers. Rest of explanation will be in post. Cheers.

  8. Bob Burg said at 5:44 pm on

    Doug: Actually, I could see how it might have come across that way though, so I’m glad you brought it up!

  9. Time and time again hands down I see people who will do ANYTHING for a LEADER who also shows they CARE.

    Managers Dictate and have no Vested Interest
    Versus
    Leaders Empower and have a vested Interest not ONLY in their company and or project
    however in the PEOPLE because he knows if his TEAM is happy and empowered in the
    long run they are going to Massively Produce results…
    Which in Effect delivers Higher bottom Line…

    Thanks for another great post…

  10. Bob Burg said at 7:20 am on

    Carly: Thank you. Indeed, effective leaders know it’s not about them, but about those they lead. Thank you for sharing with us!

  11. Bob,

    This is BRILLIANT!

    I am lucky enough to have a sales manager who is BOTH a manager and a LEADER.

    I send a special SHOUT OUT to the managers who “hold the vision” and “empower their salespeople” at the same time.

    It is a very tricky line to walk and is only walked by those who have a great commitment to the success of their company AND their salespeople.

    Can you IMAGINE having to toe the line of the company AND deal with the individual needs/shortcomings/talents/commitments of your sales staff? It boggles the mind!

    Love to the managers who coach, train, and let their salespeople FLY (and do the hard work of letting those who aren’t suited find their way in another profession).

    Leadership is found at ALL levels. When you find it in “management”, it is a blessing!

    The Irreverent Sales Girl

  12. Bob Burg said at 12:15 am on

    Great thoughts. Thank you for sharing with us!

  13. Bob and Doug,

    On the issue of “slamming managers”. The context of this discussion is the interrelationships between Authority, Leadership and Organization.

    When viewed from this perspective, it is possible to shift perspectives on the issue of “slamming managers”. This non-compliance is no longer a “personal” issue; but rather an “organizational structural” issue, whereby the roles of manager and leader are underpinned by different “authority structures”.

    For manager this is “command and control”; and for leader “acting on one’s own authority”.

    Hence, the fundamental issue is one of “authority structure” rather than “personal style”; and how “command and control” structures have dysfunctional consequences for all involved. Plus, management is inextricably bound up with command and control.

    This means that the succession to management is an onus for everyone to become a leader / follower … learn how to “act on their own authority” … and replace hierarchy with “peer-to-peer leadership conversations”, shaped by the alignment of resonant values and shared purpose.

  14. Bob Burg said at 2:41 pm on

    Denis: Thank you. I appreciate you adding your thoughts and comments to the discussion. Much thanks!

  15. Todd Moore said at 12:36 am on

    Hello all,

    I absolutely love this topic, Bob! For me, I am growing a new organization and it is important to get it right. And the way I see it, and from what you have preached time and time again, is that the leader should inspire the VISION of the company to his managers. People flock to a vision. For instance, our vision is simple but powerful. We are on a mission to let families have the freedom to manage the sun for ultimate fun and memories! It is short and sweet! I am aware of the need in today’s real world. A void!

    And Doug Wagner. You make an excellent point! I was made aware of something that is very, very true. If you surved a room of 100 people and asked them if they would be, 1) a leader, 2) a follower, or 3) Reliable #2 like a VP to the President. Most hands were split evenly among leaders and followers. Only 3 people out of 100 said their goal was to be a RELIABLE #2. The speaker said, rightfully, “If I were you, I would get to know those people. They are loyal and will stick by you through and through. They are the true diamonds in the rough!” What an awakening! Doug is that reliable #2, I suspect, and I would be honored to have that kind of loyalty and devotion on my team.

    Carly Alyssa Thorne makes excellent points. It is the CARING (a.k.a. vision that helps man kind). Plus we take it a step further and EVERYTHING we sell we will have permanent good will causes to help others because it IS the right thing to do. It uplifts people with pride knowing they are doing good in the world. Carly: what is wrong in a lot of mangerial systems is that they send out people on a goal oriented task. SELL 10,000 cadgets to this company to earn X amount of dollars. Yes, you see it but how do you sell that to the stores? Where is the training? The benefits always matter. ALWAYS. Money is a byproduct of helping others. PERIOD! The managers should be focused on the BENEFITS of why this widget is so needed in today’s society. This stop leaks when it matters most. And it won’t freeze under the most extreme conditions. Yes, when it comes to making sure this cadget works, is that we have solved this issue. No more worries about not be able to use your device because of this. We have solved this so that you can do more important things in your life. Stay inside, stay warm! We got you covered!”

    When the team is focused on the benefits, amazing things happen. People can look right into your eyes and know when they are being sold. Once they see that, it is OVER. Don’t even bother. Rather, if they look into your eyes and they see that you really want to solve a major need in their lives that REALLY matters, they see that you CARE about them. PERIOD!

    Referrals and testimonials will be sure to follow if your product and customer service stay top notched. Just give a damn about people, society, and the rest just takes care of itself.

    Right, Bob? My Go-Giver hero!

  16. Todd Moore said at 1:03 am on

    This is addressed to Denis Roberts. Denis, I understand the “structural” difference and you have described them quite accurately. What I am seeing through all of that is that it seems to be a conflict when in fact it can work in harmony.

    A CEO puts out the vision. His goal is to hire copies of himself in terms of the vision. It is amazing that when I spend a few minutes talking about the vision that I see, people are drawn in because I make THEM feel why it is important. When you can have your managers feeling like a satisfied client/customer, he now knows the WHY and will run with it.

    The managers have their goals. That will ALWAYS be a fact of life. But if you chase the money, it runs further and futher away because you are money goal oriented.

    If your managers see the vision, they will show that and inspire the most amazing salespeople. The Irrelevent Sales Girl in her post is also right. There are some people who it is better to help them in another career. I am definitely one of those. I tried insurance sales. While noble, it is not MY calling. I have my calling and I am pursuing it with all vigor! People flourish in environments that make them happy and prosper.

    I firmly believe that we have come to a time in place where I would like to see people be more open about their charities in the gamesmanship of one-upping each other to give more! A battle of the givers! Sounds like an interesting new entrepreneural show that the ones who give will be the ones to get angel and VC money. I digress, sorry!

    Thanks for reading! And thank you for always inspriing Bob along with all of your amazing friends and authors who are in it to help.

  17. Bob Burg said at 6:40 am on

    Todd: Thank you for your kind words. Regarding the part where you mentioned my saying in the past that the leaders should inspire the VISION of the company to his or her managers, that’s a start but there is certainly a lot more to it than that. I didn’t want to leave it as though that were enough in and of itself. Thank you for taking time to respond to so many of the individual comments and suggestions.

  18. Doug Wagner said at 1:33 pm on

    Hi Todd Moore, thanks for the compliment and the stats. Good stuff.

    The key is knowing “when” to lead, manage, follow or just stay out of the way.

    P.S. Your guess was wrong on which role I am in.

  19. Todd Thanks!

    Your are right that it does not automatically follow that there will be conflict between compliance and “command and control” management; and freely-based alignment with “authentic” and inspirational leadership.

    For harmony to exist, there are three critical elements: vision; alignment; and free will.

    When a powerful vision holder and leader is able to gain the freely given alignment of both management and staff; then the function of command and control management becomes largely redundant and non-problematic.

    This is because the leader has gained freely given alignment with their vision from the organisation as a whole. As such, there is no longer any need for a command and control management to keep staff in line

    The full progression from the non-problematic to harmony involves managers being able to free themselves up to move into a leadership role; and to act on their own authority to dissolve dysfunctional hierarchy and transit into a peer-to-peer leadership role.

  20. Bob Burg said at 2:15 pm on

    Todd: Doug Wagner is Founder of his company; a hugely successful entrepreneur and leader. :-)

  21. Patrick Mahan said at 10:49 pm on

    Lincoln is the first to pop into my mind. I think Vince Lombardi fits the bill also. And Walt Disney!

  22. Bob Burg said at 6:51 am on

    Patrick: Thank you for sharing those names/examples with us!

  23. Skip Prichard said at 10:06 am on

    What great quotes and wisdom, Bob! I think of people in my past who have helped inspire commitment in me. Each of us has the ability to inspire one other person, and change everything.

  24. Bob Burg said at 10:14 am on

    Skip: Great thoughts. Thank you for sharing that with us!

  25. Carl Heise said at 3:15 am on

    Love the challenged, and ensuing discussion.

    Manager/Leader is it about title, or function? Function is chosen, even when title is not?

    In defense of the moments when we all lead badly, what I like about the above is its challenge to the aspirations of a leader. Being aspirational about leadership – specifically, with clear goals etc, is something all of us should take on. Humans don’t get it right all the time, even when the approach is right, sustaining it requires aspirations.

  26. Bob Burg said at 7:15 am on

    Carl: Thank you for joining the discussion and sharing your thoughts with us!

  27. [...] posted previously, I love that saying (what I call, a “Dondi-ism”) by my great friend and [...]

  28. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:33 am on

    What a GREAT article Bob!!!!
    True leaders who’s actions are based on care and love, you cannot help but supporting and promoting – and “go throught water and fire for” as we have a saying in Danish – that I recognice from myself :) Ain’t that in fact what we all are searching for in life? Because true leaders aree not just businessconnections but in fact lifefriends.
    Thank’s Bob.
    Huge Hugs from Denmark
    Your devoted friend
    Lene

  29. Bob Burg said at 12:04 pm on

    Lene: Wow – powerful, my great friend. Everything you said was fantastic! And, I LOVE that Danish saying!

  30. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 12:50 pm on

    :) :) :)

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