Do you want to be a Manager or a Leader?

This morning, I had to go to a bank to change some foreign currency to Sri Lankan rupees. Since I had personally banked with Sampath Bank, Sri Lanka, since 2003, until I left the country in 2010, I decided to go there, to the Battaramulla, Sri Lanka Branch, which was close to me.

I was waiting at the entrance before their opening time which is 8.30am. I was taken in around 8.31am, which made me happy about their punctuality. A smiling face welcome me from behind a counter which said:

“Go to the next counter”.

I was pleasantly surprised when he asked me why I was waiting, as I wasn’t expecting him to serve. He asked me to go upstairs to level 1 to do necessary paperwork and to come back to him with a payment slip to collect the money.

Upstairs was noisy, but they hadn’t seen me yet. Once they saw a customer, it was “Business as usual” kind of look. The two girls that were at the foreign exchange counter was well presented, and I secretly admired their choice in sarees. I saw that both of them had good taste. Well, a similar taste to mine, which doesn’t make it a good taste, but my kind of taste!!!

That is when this background noise started, it was a continuous, and monotonous sequence of sounds. It was a lady, who appeared to be important, addressing her staff, complaining how inefficient they were. I didn’t care at first, but this didn’t end. I was quite surprised, how her staff managed to still have a smiling face. She appeared to be kind, and she wasn’t really scolding, but if I was at the receiving end, I would have preferred to be scolded, and be over and be done with it, rather than this continuous whining. Then she also disturbed the lovely girl in a lovely saree who was serving me, a customer. Please bare in mind, that this girl already had to do 20 minutes of paperwork for my simple task, due to stupid government regulations. I saw that some staff members were now getting irritated. I decided to plug my headphones on to listen to music. As anything seemed to be better than listening to her whinge.

Then I went downstairs hoping to be served by the cute young boy with the friendly smile. But No, the whining lady was there, still talking about a missing voucher, hogging him. He smiled and nodded with a knowing look, that appeared to encapsulate the message:

“Sorry, I’m stuck here. I can’t serve you”.

That’s when I overheard her say:

I don’t know how you were molly coddled at home, but there is no one to molly coddle you here!

Translating to my native language, which she spoke:

මම දන්නෙ නෑ ඔයා ගෙදරදි කොහොම හුරතල් වුනාද කියලා, මෙහෙ හුරතල් කරන්න කවුරුත් නෑ!!!”

refering to the typical upbringing of a Sri Lankan boy. This, I deem as completely inappropriate, especially in front of a customer.

Trust me, I would molly coddle him any day, but not the kind of molly coddle a mother would do. And I’m sure if I was his manager, I would probably say some inappropriate joke, that would get the message across, but create no stress. But, this lady’s tone was condecending, unless she also wanted to molly coddle him, the way I did.

Then I went to the next counter to be served by a very pretty young girl dressed in pink, who appeared to be pregnant. That whining lady seemed to be following me, or she clearly needed to be heard!!! And she didn’t seem to get satisfied by the number of people she complained to. So she came to this pretty girl in pink, to complain about the missing voucher. Once she left, I asked her,

Is she your manager?

to which she responded

No, she is our assistant manager

At this point, I was wondering:

The Sri Lankan culture I knew would give a special place to a pregnant lady, knowing she needs to be taken care of, for the baby’s sake. But this lady doesn’t seem to care, she seem to be stressing her out, although stress is not good for the baby

I decided to submit a complaint to Sampath Bank, which read as follows:

Re: Assistant Manager – Battaramulla Branch

I was at the bank today as a foreign national (ex-sri Lankan), to change some foreign currency. The staff was really kind and helpful.

However, this lady, who is supposed to be the assistant manager was going on, complaining to her staff about a missing voucher. I listened to this from 8.31am to 8.59am in the first floor and later ground floor.

She also disturbed the staff who was serving the customers, including me, wanting them to drop everything to look for her missing voucher, including a girl who appeared to be pregnant.

I’m sorry, but I feel very sorry for your staff. I wouldn’t want to work for a manager like this. She needs to address the staff privately, without embarrassing herself and her staff in front of customers. All staff were disturbed in their daily operations. I’m sure one person is sufficient to find a missing voucher.

I represent a foreign national now, and having banked with you from 2003 till 2010 personally as a Sri Lankan, I’m saying this as I care. I do hope this lady’s job is not at stake. But she needs to be sent for a training, at least the poor staff would get a break!

This, I believe, is the key difference between a Manager and a Leader.

A manager see themselves as superior to others. Although they deligate, they take the power of authority and confidence away from their subordinates, while making them accountable for their mistakes, with or without their consent.

Whereas, A leader, acts as a slave, supports the staff, enabling them to do their work, empowering them with confidence and authority, while guiding them to correct their mistakes, and improve their strengths. This will make the most of the staff, they will respect the leader, thereby assume responsibility for their own actions.

So, which one of these roles, do you think is more efficient, effective, and human?

Do you want to be a Manager or a Leader?

– Nim –

One thought on “Do you want to be a Manager or a Leader?”

  1. A manager who actually does their job well is so rare these days, it’s a shame. Not many people are cut out for leadership, I feel as though it’s a quality that you have to be born with, else you will never really attain it.

    Liked by 2 people

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