To grow your business you need to have both leadership and management skills. But what’s the difference between these skills?
In a nutshell, managers are all about the details and are good at logistics. In contrast, leaders spend time on the big picture and focus on ultimate goals.
Both skills are vital for business, according to Vanessa Garrard, owner of E3 Style, a business with an annual turnover of $30 million.
“I would be the first to say I have managed 160 staff over the last 15 years but it has only been the last five years that I have been able to lead properly, and I am still learning every day,” she says.
What’s the difference?
According to Carmel Ackerly, chief executive at the Australian Institute of Management, managers are about getting things done.
“They focus a lot on structures, plans, times and money, very relevant skills that a workplace needs”, she says.
In contrast, Ackerly says leaders work through followers and they persuade, foster loyalty and motivate people to work for them and follow them rather than do a job.
“Leaders without management skills can confuse followers, as in the end, followers will leave them as there is no tangible reward at the end,” Ackerly says.
“Managers without leadership skills will get the job done but people will just do what they have to, they might hit targets but they will only just get there.”
Ackerly says the best combination is when you get a manger focused on the job who can also inspire people through their leadership skills.
Mike Dwyer, consultant at the Change Factory, says the difference is that leaders have followers, set goals and establish culture while managers are the ones that execute.
“In any organisation greater than a small handful of people you need both,” he says.
“People rally around a great leader, but you need management as well, with somebody doing the heavy lifting in the backroom.”
How do you know if you are a leader or a manager?
Dwyer says it’s important to have self-awareness of whether you are a leader or a manager as few people naturally do both.
“Look at what you like doing, if what you like doing is inspiring people then that is leadership,” he says.
“If you are more focused on doing things right and process and procedure, then that is managing.”
A guiding rule is that managers are more left brain and leaders are more right brain, according to Dwyer.
How leaders can become better managers
In small business, where there may not be the opportunity to delegate, Dwyer recommends leaders improve their management skills by paying attention to detail and focusing on outcomes.
“Leaders can be prone to finding themselves looking at an idea and seeing value in an idea and perhaps not following through with the due diligence to make it work,” he says.
“Leaders like Richard Branson are very strong on the strategic side but also getting into the detail and understanding where to focus on the detail.”
Dwyer says the key to leading and managing at the same time is to know when to get down to detail and when to pull back and look back at the big picture.
Ackerly has some practical tips for leaders who want to develop their management skills.
“Have a look at the outcome you want to achieve then work backwards and put some structure there, make sure you have right people in the right places,” she says.
“Most managers will say ‘By the end of the year I want to deliver 500 widgets to China’, and look at how will we do this and go about a logical way to put the steps in place to do that.”
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