People who lead ship while managers administrate. Leadership happens when people on a conference call look at you when tough questions are asked. Management takes place when you’re expected to recap said conference call. Leading means inspiring people to do their best work and getting out of the way. Managing keeps an eye on falling in line and institutes the status quo.
I’ve come close to managing in my career. Each time this has happened, I’ve intentionally made a move in the opposite direction. Maybe this explains why I’ve moved around a bit in my career. It certainly explains my meandered path to GoKart Labs, a place home to many meandered career paths.
Don’t let the comforting jazz hands of management distract you. Sure, you may be proud of how many people you manage. You efficiently navigate the organizational back channels. You’re compensated well. But, are you leading? Shipping? Inspiring people to do their best work? Probably not.
Leading is the path of most resistance, but totally worth it. Follow that path and you’ll manage just fine.