Chess or Checkers?

by Larry Emmott on April 23, 2011

in Management

From “Inside Strengths” newsletter:

To simplify, average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.

The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable… In chess, each piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves.

This newsletter is produced by TMBC the Marcus Buckingham company. He is the author of several best sellling business books including “Now Discover Your Strengths”

The newsletter goes on to make a clear distinction between managers and leaders in a manner I have not seen before but one that makes a lot of sense. A leader needs to understand what is universal in a group and inspire others toward a shared vision. A manager on the other hand needs to discover the invidual talents of each team member and exploit those talents in an effective manner.

Great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on it. A leader’s job is to rally people toward a better future. He can succeed in this only when he can cut through differences of race, sex, age, nationality, and personality and, using stories and celebrating heroes, tap into those very few needs we all share.

The job of a manager, on the other hand, is to turn one person’s particular talent into performance. A manager will succeed only when he can identify and deploy the differences among people…

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