“You manage things. You lead people.” – culcgooda.wordpress.com
Every successful company will and must have a mix of managers and leaders. Some individuals, will belong to one or other group, while others will be both. Whatever the mix, the fact is that a business should have both. Between managers and leaders, managers are supposed to be highly logical and reasonable and are more focused on the task to be accomplished. They have a good understanding of the kind of resources required, the allocation of the same, estimated time of completion and the amount of effort required to complete a certain task. While managing, the approach normally is one of ‘controlling’ the resources including the task force involved. Managers differ from leaders in being instructors – telling people what to do and being there to see that the tasks get done.
Between managers and leaders, it is the leaders who pay closer attention to the ‘human resource’. They motivate those who work with them and prefer to let people figure out the best way to approach problems and find solutions. Leaders become one with their people and are able to inspire them to do better – make them want to contribute. They are able to draw out the strengths and core abilities of each individual and show the individuals how to use these skills and abilities according to the tasks at hand. Between managers and leaders, it is the leaders who are able to inspire, believe in the inherent capabilities of people and have a clear vision of what the company should achieve and the level of service that customers must receive. The other basic difference between managers and leaders is that managers tend to be more narrowly focused – looking only at the problem at hand and the process that must be ‘strictly’ followed. Leaders on the other hand, endeavour to get the team members to think and come up with questions and solutions and are open and welcoming in their approach. They believe in empowering their teams rather than centralizing ‘power’ and ‘talking down’ at them.
Managers and Leaders – what’s your company made of? The idea of this exposition is not to say that one ‘kind’ is better or more acceptable since anyone running a business knows that any company worth its salt and with a customer focus should have and needs both managers and leaders. There must be a fine balance between the two and it is the onus of the company’s top line to ensure that both managers and leaders are identified and their skills used to gain the ultimate advantage for the company.
Ideally identify both managers and leaders at the hiring stage. Also use regular coaching and observing to identify which of your current staff would make great managers and who would be better at leading. Ensure that you have a healthy mix of people who can manage the jobs, projects and processes and those who can be more people-focused and bring out the best in each. Both managers and leaders are important and crucial – without managers there would be no one to get down to brass tacks and make this happen and without leaders you would be left guessing as to who would be the best persons to complete a task and how you can build on their capabilities. For any company that wants to remain successful they need a task-force that will strengthen the company, making it better equipped to serve customers. Happy customers translate to a highly profitable and growing company. It is imperative therefore for companies to have both managers and leaders – the doers and the visionaries – to become and remain successful.
We are not suggesting that managers and leaders exist in isolation or in silos. There should be and in fact is essential that both managers and leaders can tackle both roles since there will be situations that would require the skills of both ‘styles’. While managers may know what needs to get done, leaders would be able to show the benefits of doing a certain task and how doing it well ties with, with major advantages for all. A manager would know what steps need to be followed to get a task done while a leader would be able to use the skills and attitudes to ensure that all the tasks are completed with the highest standards of quality and ultimately lead to customer satisfaction. In addition, both managers and leaders are required to show what processes can be improved and what additional skills and knowledge are essential to attain higher targets the next time round.
Between managers and leaders, managers would be able to continually organize and assemble people to accomplish tasks while leaders would channelize their energy to manage change and varying situations. In the current competitive scenario and with trends and forecasts pointing to the fact that this is unlikely to abate, both these styles are crucial and would need to work in tandem to move a company forward. It is a myth and actually quite ridiculous for people to believe that only as you reach the higher rungs in an organization can you be a leader. The reality is that as an employee if you display the traits mentioned earlier on, you are already either a manager or a leader and most companies benefit by recognizing these qualities and promoting their experienced employees to higher rungs. It would be quite tough to continually learn new skills when you have reached the topmost rungs – the core business would take up all your time. So it would behove companies to encourage their employees to emulate managers and leaders and whichever role they manage better would be what they could grow into. When there is progression and career success in an organization, the staff members remain motivated and the company moves forward by providing better service and offerings to its customers.
Between managers and leaders, it would seem that managers are the creators of systems, processes and guidelines and their focus remains on operating and running the business on a daily basis. Leaders on the other hand are able to draw people and their inherent qualities out and towards themselves. They are able to easily bond with the teams and provide them with the confidence which allows them to choose a direction by which to achieve the goals and keep the company and themselves moving forward. Leaders are great orators and people would always stop and pay attention to what they have to say – they have the power to keep people going even in the toughest situations and crisis moments.
It is quite difficult to imagine a successful business without the combination of both managers and leaders and most business owners especially the new ‘breed’ of start-ups are led by individuals having strong inclinations towards qualities of both managers and leaders. It is this strength that is probably the reason for the rise and rise of new companies flooding the market with ideas that were not even conceived. They provide the systems and operating procedures like managers and also have the vision and ‘sense of direction’ as any good leader would.
Given the increasing costs and shrinking markets most companies must ramp up their competence since it would seem rather tough to have the luxury of one person handling only one type of activity – multi-skilled and multi-tasking seems to have taken over an altogether new meaning. It would seem that this new breed of business owners know that to succeed they should be able to be managers – developing systems, aligning these systems with operations and the ultimate goals of the company and then also be leaders – they are vigilant, respectful, appreciate and bring out the particular skill sets of all those in their employ (in fact they choose people with the skills and attitudes that match their own and that of the company they have envisioned). Managers and leaders may be two different sets of skill sets and their styles may be different, however, both these skill sets and methods are equally vital for a company to succeed and remain at the top of the mind of their customers. What is common between managers and leaders though, is the drive to achieve sustainable success. Can you think of a company that does not require such ‘drive’?