I REFER to the letter "Managers who fail to walk the talk" (NST, Feb 18). The writer should not use the terms "leaders" and "managers" interchangeably because the two are quite different.
A manager is concerned with managing the present situation, which mostly means maintaining the status quo, or at least assuring that situations do not get worse.
Leaders, on the other hand, are always interested in improvement and making things better. Leaders cannot sleep at night unless their company has turned in a higher profit today than yesterday.
Managers are static, while leaders are progressive.
I agree that in a new era, new methods must be used. However, the function and role of a position does not change. Aggressive managers or aggressive leaders cannot be tolerated for long, but in reality, they never were.
If one looks at history, one will find that all aggressive managers or leaders eventually perished in an unfortunate manner.
The right word to use, especially with regard to leaders, is "confident". A confident leader knows his work and can inspire others to do what is right and even exceed themselves.
Confidence means firmness of purpose, but never disrespecting others and absolutely never be inflexible. There is a dire lack of good leadership in the world at present and many companies and countries, too, are in trouble because of poor leadership. Managers are dependent on leaders. So, if the leadership is weak, the management will follow likewise.
The main reason for leadership is the utter loneliness of the job. A manager can still lower himself to the level of his employees, but a leader must always keep himself above, otherwise he loses respect and stops being the leader.
Undoubtedly, many leaders are married and have families and friends, but all of these people can be of little use most of the time for the leader. He or she is mostly alone because he is different, better, knows more and is inspired.
A leader has a choice. Do it or leave it. Anyone who thinks the price to pay is too high does not have to buy.
However, a leader can never sell under price. Doing so jeopardises his position, that of his managers, and eventually the company. The value of a leader is equivalent to his ability to apportion value.
As for the manager, if he does not check the assembly line properly and lets products of substandard quality go through, he will cause losses to the company.
A manager should know that without the leader, he can't do his job. So, if he wants to keep his position, it is in his interest to ensure there is a good leader.
Marisa Demori,Kuala Lumpur | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 22/02/2013