What Makes a Team Leader Strong

Managers are often leaders at the same time. Well, is there any difference between a leader and a manager? The story below helps you to see this. By the way, what makes a team leader strong?

Ruth, John’s deputy, was standing in the middle of the open plan office and looking at the tribal mask that John had given her. “It’s fantastic. Thank you! Hmm.. John, I’d like to talk to you but I have an appointment with Mr. Smith now,” Ruth said. John suggested that they have lunch together and left the office. He was going to Ron. John didn’t want to waste time and hoped Ron, the senior manager, could throw some light on the situation*.
A few minutes later John knocked at the door and heard Ron’s voice: “Come in, please.” John entered and saw… What did he see? Well, he saw the senior manger sitting at his desk cutting his fingernails. “Hi Ron, maybe I can come back later? “ John mused. But Ron invited him to take a seat and asked whether there was something he could do for him. John was totally speechless – Ron astonished him.
“How was your holiday, John?” Ron asked and continued cutting fingernails. John replied politely and looked around. To his surprise he noticed some books written by
Tom Peters on the desk. “What is your favorite book? “Thriving on Chaos” or “In Search of Excellence”?” he asked Ron with a touch of irony. However, Ron didn’t reply as if he hadn’t heard the questions.

John decided to speak openly. He explained to Ron that he had done a lot to build trust with his team and he could help Ron bond with the team members. He expressed doubts about Ron’s decision to invite the team members to face-to-face meetings without informing him. Ron tried to protest: “Why? I had no time to wait for you. I’ve had two great meetings with Sam and Ruth. By the way Ruth is very beautiful.” John tried to hide his shock. “Ron, it seems to me that the team members are very nervous,” John said, “Is there some reason why you’ve decided not to wait for me to come back from holiday?.” After perhaps thirty seconds of stony silence, Ron leaned forward and said: “To tell you the truth, I’ve done this because of Ruth. I wanted to impress and win her back. You know, she is the only woman I’ve loved…”

John did not know how to respond but he intuitively understood that Ron was seeking his support. He frowned and shot the manager a look as if to say, Are you crazy, Ron? John took a deep breath and said: “I really appreciate your openness. Look, I have an idea. Come to a happy hour with my team tomorrow. Trust me. Ron, listen, I think you’ll have a good chance to build a relationship with the team in a proper manner.” Ron nodded. “Great! See you tomorrow,” John said and turned to go.

When John returned to his office, nobody was there. He looked at his watch – it was high time for lunch with Ruth who was late as usual. John was beaming with pride – he could remove some road blocks. Indeed, "management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing", as Tom Peters once said. However, John felt the day seemed to promise some more surprises. 
What made John, the team leader, strong? What do you think?

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