The Drill Pad
Instructional Resource Library

Leaders or Managers

By MSgt Lee A. Messina III

It is one thing to supervise and manage people, but it is an entirely different thing to lead. To begin with, there is a difference between being a leader and being a manager. Managers direct the day-to-day operation of business. As supervisors of workers, they ensure that people do as required: providing services, fabricating goods, filling orders, making deliveries, or, in the military's case, accomplishing the required mission. Managers handle budgets, keep offices running, and generally maintain the status quo.

Leaders, on the other hand, are men and women of foresight, who see how the small details coalesce with larger patterns of importance. Good leaders prepare, expedite change, and cultivate their people and their institutions.

Great leaders inspire us and help us envision infinite possibilities. They share their vision and challenge us to develop our own, enlisting us to join them on a voyage to fulfill our highest human potential.

Leaders produce results, not excuses. They do not waste people's time with elaborate alibis. Leaders do not want to hear excuses, nor do they make them. They want action. Leaders do not shrink from the unknown in fear. They embrace change with total confidence in their capabilities and in the capabilities of their people.

A leader remains composed in the midst of a tempest. They are unmoved by extremes of crises. They can tolerate high levels of anxiety. When faced by a challenge, they keep moving forward. Decisions often have to be made under extreme circumstances.

A leader has character. This is the ability to dig down deep after putting out 110% and pulling out more. They accept no limits, especially those set by others.

A leader has honor, integrity, and a good sense of what is right and what is wrong. They do the right thing no matter how attractive or profitable the wrong thing may be. In today's society both adults and kids have become accustomed to living their lives without many or all of these attributes. Because of this, our schools, neighborhoods, cities and country have suffered.

Finally, in any organization, there are at least three types of personalities:

  • those who see problems--the victims
  • those who see solutions--the managers
  • and those who see possibilities--the leaders

Drill Instructors must be leaders. If they are no more than managers, they cannot take the trainees entrusted into their care and transform them into protectors of democracy.