How Managers Push, But Leaders Pull


By Jas Singh

Recently a lot has been written about management vs leadership.

The truth is, both are essential to success. For me, a manager is someone who plans, organizes and co-ordinates. A leader is someone who in inspires and motivates.

Both are critical to success. In many cases individuals may need to be both good managers and good leaders. But both require a different approach.

There are many managers who are not accomplished leaders. Who sometimes don’t realise the difference between management and leadership. Who try the same approach for both. Who use targets, deadlines and numbers to lead people.

Who wonder why they fail to inspire and motivate.

Or even worse. Don’t even realise they fail to inspire and motivate.

Traditional approaches to management often use a “push” approach. Things have to be done in a certain way. Things are consistently monitored. Strategies, processes and even beliefs are enforced upon others. Followers have to comply.

Leaders pull. Followers act because they want to. They inspire, they motivate, they encourage. Desire to act on the followers behalf is intrinsic – it’s something they want to do, out of choice. Great leaders attract loyal followers, and even pull in others from outside their own circles.

Here are some ways how leaders pull.

watch They lead with purpose

As the author Peter Drucker once said –  Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Great leaders, lead with purpose first. They are obsessed with what they do, and the purpose they serve is even bigger than themselves. It is who they are.

Many managers primary goal – especially in business – is to increase revenue. Everything they do is about hitting targets, cutting costs or managing shareholder expectations. Money, is certainly an important part of business – it is an indication of providing sound value to others – so there is nothing wrong with this. Except that it’s not particularly inspiring.

Working hard to make sure your companies largest shareholders get another payday isn’t particularly inspiring. Knowing you are part of a mission that will change an industry (even the world) is.

Great leaders start with their purpose.

First and foremost they serve their followers

Often traditional approaches to management use an authoritative approach. I ask you to do this, you di it – if you don’t there are consequences. The rise of this “boss” was particularly profound during the industrial times – when companies used a conveyor style approach to all aspects of business – including management. Such managers often use over-competitive and pressure approaches to manage employee performance.

But leaders are different. There primary purpose is to serve their followers. They do whatever they can to help them. Whatever they need to protect them. Leaders jump first. Leaders eat last. Leaders take shots for the team.

Not only does this empower and raise the performance of their followers, it motivates them. Knowing that their leader has their best interest at heart, it makes them want to succeed even more. It’s human nature to return such gratitude. With interest.

Great leaders serve their followers.

They have a crystal clear vision

Asking someone to do something because of a target, number or deadline is not particularly inspiring. Especially in the long term. All of us have worked for companies or management where everything has been OK at the start but as time has gone on, things just seem to lose momentum. We know our jobs, even know how to be successful, may even know how we will be rewarded. But we’re unable to answer that critical question – where exactly are we going?

Studies have proved that having a strong vision on behalf of the leader is an essential part to inspiring others. Throughout time, the greatest leaders have been those who have had strong and clear visions that they live, breathe and communicate consistently. Great leaders are those who can convert their dreams into organised thoughts in the form of words, pictures or music.

Whether it is the “I have a dream speech” by Martin Luther King or the “We shall fight on the beaches” speech by Winston Churchill, great leaders have inspired others by their passion in what they believe in. Their clarity of the future. Even in the toughest times, their vision keeps them going.

They are never prepared to quit.

They know the time will come.

Great leaders have clear visions.


Pull is always more effective than push.

Whether it is changing behaviour, selling a new product or even winning someone’s trust, it’s always much easier if others do so because they want to. Not because they are pushed or forced to do.

Hiring managers can gain much from those people who are “pulled” towards the job. Who really want it. Who don’t need convincing or bumper salary raises to jump across.

We should all have a system for pulling in the right people. Who believe in what we believe.

How do you pull?

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