Facebook's go-to management guide dispels a common myth about leaders vs. managers

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In regular conversation, we reserve the word “leader” for the people who stand out at an organisation. According to this logic, “manager” is simply a role, and leadership must be earned.

According to management philosophy that Facebook runs on, however, managers and leaders are indeed profoundly different — but both are necessary.

Facebook’s VP of People Lori Goler told Business Insider that since joining the company in 2008 to head up its HR department, she began using it to shape Facebook into a “strengths-based organisation.” She was inspired by former Gallup analysts Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman’s 1999 bestselling management guide “First, Break All the Rules” and began collaborating with Buckingham through his consultancy firm TMBC.

They “broke all the rules” of convention by concluding that the best managers fostered strengths and ignored weaknesses rather than creating a team of well-rounded individuals. They also found that managers were more important to their employees’ success and happiness than the overall company’s culture and initiatives.

Another convention they broke was the portrayal of managers as automatons moving work around, while leaders are those actually moving the company forward.

“Great managers look inward,” they wrote. “Great leaders, by contrast, look outward.”

That is, leaders do not have the time to determine the individual needs and styles of their employees because they are focused on bigger-picture thinking. It’s up to managers to establish these relationships and foster excellent output.

For example, a great CEO will be thinking of big picture ideas for the direction of the company, but a great leader will be developing the talent that actually moves the company in that direction.

It’s simply incorrect, Buckingham and Coffman argued, to use manager in a pejorative sense.

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