The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: "Manager or Leader?" Understanding Your Strengths in the Context of Leadership and Management with Dr. Gama Perruci

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This ongoing series explores sessions of the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) through participant narratives. MLDP is a one-term program designed to develop citizen leaders among sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Dartmouth College. Led by expert guest speakers each week, sessions employ experiential teaching techniques to engage students through hands-on learning of core management and leadership skills.

According to Dr. Gama Perrucci, our speaker for the second session of MLDP, there are five components of leadership. This includes the manager/leader pair, followers, goals, organizational context, and cultural context. Although the terms "manager" and "leader" are used interchangeably, they refer to two different roles. Managers plan and direct the work of a group of individuals while leaders possess drive, vision, and an innovative mindset. In essence, managers ask how and when while leaders ask what and why. Despite their differences, both roles are equally important.

Dr. Gama Perruci leads a recent session of MLDP on the traits of managers and leaders. Photo by Hung Nguyen '18.

For an activity, participants were divided into groups, each of which had to categorize the 34 personality traits listed on a Strengths Test as traits belonging to a leader or manager. After completing this task, every group’s choices were tabulated in order to create a master list of more leading and managing traits. We then consulted a master list in order to check whether our five strongest traits on the Strengths Test were really either leading or managing traits. If three or more traits were leader traits, one is considered a leader. The reverse is true for managing traits. Given my intellectual proclivity and desire to make others feel included, I thought I would be considered a manager. However, those same traits labeled me as a leader in this scenario. I found this task the most valuable as it made me consider how traits I take for granted can actually be strengths in a leadership context.

MLDP Participants attempt to alternatively lead and manage teams to achieve a common goal. Photo by Hung Nguyen '18.

Our last activity was called "Production Line." Each group had to complete a strand of interlinked paper clips of a pre-determined length, with one paper clip and six jumbo clips in the exact middle. The first team to make it to a test and market site won the exercise. For each round, there would be a leader and a manager. The leader had to motivate the team and explain the rules while the manager had to oversee production. In the first round, I managed my team and we did not win. In the second round I led, and we won after learning what worked. I emphasize "we" because the distinction between leader, manager, and followers melted away as we all worked together on a common goal, ultimately revealing deeper lessons from the exercise.

-Written by Crystal Williams '14, Spring 2015 MLDP Participant

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences