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Managing Diversity ­- Leaders or Managers?

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 2

Managing diversity ­and learning how to work with people different than ourselves­ will not come as easily to those who have the traits of a manager as it will to those who have the traits of a leader.

The following characteristics are arranged on a continuum as being more representative of managers or leaders:

ManagersLeaders
PracticalConceptual
ReasonableEmpathetic
DecisiveFlexible
Management by ObjectiveManagement by Walking Around
OrderlyCreative
AnalyticalExperimental
InstructiveInspiring


There is a two-part challenge facing many organizations: (1) there are too many managers and not enough leaders (according to nearly two-thirds of the executives surveyed in Harvard's John Kotter's book, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management), and (2) leadership qualities (empathetic, experimental, etc.) are necessary in order to effectively respond to diversity. The irony many managers will face as workforce diversity increases is that the very qualities which propelled them up to the rank of manager are unlikely to help them manage diversity.