A good manager will take you through the forest, no matter what. A leader will climb a tree and may say, “This is the wrong forest.”
I saw this in the comments of an older blog post the other day, and it really stuck with me. (Brian Tinkler just informed me that this is actually a Stephen Covey quote/paraphrase.)
Of course, a bad manager can’t see the forest for the trees.
I’ve had a number of good managers, and even more bad managers. However, I have had very few leaders, and only one, so far, in a work setting.
It takes more than a vision to be a leader. It also takes understanding — understanding the situation and the people that you are leading. A “leader” with only vision is just a fanatic. (I’ve had my share of those, too.)
Fortunately, I’ve had enough good leaders that I may become one someday. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with the good old-fashioned philosophy of “follow the leader”. That’s what I’m planning to do.
Some managers/leaders will also say “This is a nature conservancy. Where do you want me to build those condos?”