Updated on: Saturday, November 06, 2021, 04:53 PM IST

Senior Citizens: It is Necessary to Shift from being Manager to Leader

Senior Citizens: It is Necessary to Shift from being Manager to Leader |

Senior Citizens: It is Necessary to Shift from being Manager to Leader |


In academic circles, distinction between role of manager and leader has often been discussed at great depth. Managers in this context are first line bosses while the leaders are people at top and providing overall directions to the business. The noteworthy differences between the two in corporate context have been documented in literary research. First, a manager’s primary duty is to administer while role of a leader is to lead. Hence managers are usually hand-on whereas leaders are expected to be hands-off. Second, a manager is to ensure that the goals are achieved and a leader’s role is to inspire to bring out best among employees so that accomplishment of goals becomes relatively easy. Third, leader is one who ought to have long-term focus for sustenance and growth of the business entity whereas a manager is usually focussed on immediate achievement of targets and hence short term in perspective. Fourth, employees look up to the manager for immediate benefits like promotions / increment whereas they expect the leader to provide overall advice and support for journey of future. And finally, managers are Doers whereas leaders are more of Mentors.

The above narrative clearly implies that for success of a business entity, both managers and leaders are needed and they, in fact, play a complementary role. A business having ineffective managers will not be able to achieve the goals despite having great leaders at the top. Similarly, absence of a good leader at the highest echelon may make business itself directionless though there may exist good managers.

Finally, it may also be remembered that in businesses, many managers ultimately migrate to the role of a leader. And, a good leader, therefore, is often trained in the basic principles of management. And many of them might have been successful as managers too. Good managers often migrate to positions of business leaders and leave the next generation of administrators to occupy the space left.

Applicability to Senior Citizens in Family Context:

The above narrative of managers & leaders, their distinctions and migration of successful mangers to the space of leaders is aptly applicable for senior citizens in family and social context.

As long as a person was active both in work life as well as in family front and relatively younger (before retirement), he / she can be compared to manager of the family. Taking decisions, having focus on achievement of family goals, managing finances, taking responsibility of family issues are all managerial responsibilities.

Once having retired, the job as manager comes to an end; that does not mean retirement from job. It only signifies migration to a higher pedestal of leadership role. The elderly person then becomes LEADER of the family (not the head of the family). And the role significantly becomes that of an inspirational leader in a family set up comprising:

1. Becoming role model for younger people.

2. Inspiring next generation managers in family to take managerial decisions in family matters like daily routine issues, financial management, among others.

3. Assuming role of family mentor i.e. guiding family members without assuming any positional responsibility.

4. Being family head without any formal power or responsibilities.

5. Helping family members to overcome turbulences, as and when these arise.

6. Being an integral part of the joys and sorrows of the family and motivating / inspiring through assumption of transformational leadership role.

If an elderly person can successfully migrate to the role of a leader from that of the manager, many of the conflicts in generations of families can be resolved. Elders can continue to be the Titular Head of the family (head without powers / responsibilities) and the next generation taking actual decisions in matters of families.

Prerequisites for This Transition:

For this evolution to happen peacefully in any family, mindset of the elders have to undergo a change. They have to realize that with retirement from active life, the baton of responsibility / accountability / decision making has to be passed on to next generation. And secondly, they need to migrate to higher level of decision making in family matters i.e. the leadership role where they only guide and inspire without any formal authority.

Once they appreciate the above, succession of power can take place smoothly and family can happily be together: Elders as Leaders and Next Generation Heads as Managers. If this management principle is followed in a domestic set up, the spirit of joint family can sustain and given an opportunity, all members of a family can live together happily.


The concepts of manager and leader and their relative roles have often been discussed in corporate parlance. Change of role when there is migration from manager to leader is also well-researched in corporate phraseology. We reiterate that the principles are applicable in family context as well. To maintain sanctity of family values and for their transition from one generation to another, there is need for peaceful migration and succession of responsibilities. There lies true transmission of family values. And in this process, the elders have a significant role to play as they have to voluntarily move from being manager to an inspirational leader!

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Published on: Saturday, November 06, 2021, 04:53 PM IST