January 15, 2019
Leadership and management have never been more important. After all, the way that we do business is changing, and workers have more autonomy than ever before. In today’s fast-paced society, it’s counterproductive for managers to manually approve or reject every decision, which is why they’re learning instead to give people the guidance and training they need to make important decisions themselves.
But while leadership and management are related, they’re not synonymous. You can be a manager without being a leader, and vice versa. The best bosses of all are usually a bit of both. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between leadership and management.
Leadership vs Management
Managers have traditionally been mostly task-oriented and typically act as a bridge between more junior and more senior employees. In many cases, their performance is evaluated based upon a range of key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the manager’s role. So a manager who works in sales might be judged based upon the overall sales revenue of each of the employees that they manage.
The problem with this approach is that it has a narrow focus and doesn’t necessarily reflect the goals of the company as a whole. That’s why managers are different to leaders, because it’s the leaders who have the vision and the passion that help to shape the direction that the company takes. Managers tell people what to do. Leaders show them where they need to go.
A lot of managers get so focussed on the tasks in hand and the goals that they need to reach that they forget to check in with their employees. We’ve all worked for a manager who’s put us under extra pressure when we were already facing deadlines and struggling to get our work done to a high standard. Adding pressure to the mix doesn’t help anyone and just increases the risk of mistakes.
A More Human Style of Leadership
Today’s leaders are starting to realise that when you’re dealing with people, you can’t just think in terms of checklists, protocols and KPIs. You need to ask yourself the hard questions like, “How’s morale? How are things at home for my employees? Does anyone need further support?” The goal should be for people’s lives to be improved by them working for you.
The thing about leadership is that it takes time to develop the necessary skills and not every manager makes for a good leader. That’s probably why 77% of organisations are currently experiencing a leadership gap. It’s also why corporate training programmes are so popular and why companies spent $362.2 billion on corporate training in 2017.
Leadership can be taught, but it takes time. On top of that, it’s not going to do you any good unless you’re receptive to change as an employer. Ideally, you’ll have leaders at all levels of the company, from the boardroom right down to entry level leaders who are looking to shape the direction that the company takes in the future.
How to Change from a Manager to a Leader
The single best way to change from a manager to a leader is to understand the way that you and your team contribute to the overall goals of the company. You need to familiarise yourself with mission statements, target audiences, production processes and more. There’s nothing wrong with specialising in a particular area (such as marketing or research and development), but you also need at least a rudimentary knowledge of how the rest of the company works.
The next step is to start thinking proactively. It can help to take a few steps back from your day-to-day duties and to look at the company with fresh eyes. Try to spot inefficiencies and ways that you can improve on existing systems. Then go out there and make it happen. After all, the best way to lead is to lead by example.
John Blake, who heads a team of assignment writers, says that he actively hires potential leaders and then trains them on the job. “We’ve found it’s easier and more cost effective to promote from within,” Blake explains. “Some of the most senior people in the company started at the bottom and worked their way up. As long as you give people the freedom to change the status quo for the better, the natural leaders will start to surface.”
Leadership and management are two sides of the same coin, and both of them have their uses. The key is to know what to use and when to use it so that your employees receive the guidance they need to develop as people while pushing your company in the right direction.
Remember that the best leaders are so successful because they lead by example. They provide the vision and the road map and then the managers make it happen. It’s a symbiotic relationship that makes a huge amount of difference when you get it right. Good luck.