The age old discussion around what is the difference between great leaders and managers continues.
Marcus Buckingham in "The One Thing You Need to Know" sheds a little light on this.
Great managers are focused on maximizing the performance of the people they manage by developing talent. Great managers are catalysts… speed up the reaction between each employee's talents and the company's goals. They are motivated by helping people grow.
Great leaders rally people to a better future. The focus on the future and the drive to accomplish something new/better is what drives a leader.
Some people have both traits as they are not mutually exclusive, however, one trait normally dominates such that a person is more naturally a manager or a leader.
What is interesting about these definitions is that they fly in the face of conventional wisdom that says anyone can learn to be a great manager or leader.
Some people may have latent talents, but without the right passion I think it would be difficult to be great at either of these. Average or not bad are learn-able, great is not if the talent and passion are missing.
Talent combined with passion creates the potential for greatness.
From personal experience I have seen people who were great technicians promoted to management or leadership positions and either fail or achieve mediocrity… and unhappiness.
I believe an organization needs to create paths that feed the talent and passions of the people working in them. If those combinations an individual possesses are not required to fulfill the company's vision, then help the person find a place where they will fit. This is not just touchy feely HR talk, this is good business as your remaining employees will see how you deal with people and this will impact retention and hiring in a positive way.
A business needs a leader to be great. It also needs great managers. Hire the talent you need to fill out the rest of the roster.