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Stefan Kazakis on 15 June 2015

What's the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager?

As a business coach I am often asked what the differences between a leader and a manager are. 

Some would say that leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them. Others might say that the biggest difference is the way in which leaders and managers motivate the people who work or follow them.

I believe leadership is an overused term.  Showing leadership is certainly important but it doesn’t magically solve all your problems.  Actually putting the plans into practice is about management.  It’s about actively intervening to steer your ship in the right direction.  Yes, doing this yourself and showing leadership is part of the process, but there’s much more to it than that.  It’s about getting the culture right and the rules of the game right.

A successful business owner needs to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board to execute their vision of success. Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision and to work with you to achieve your goals. Managing is about making sure the day-to-day things are happening as they should.

Learn the how to lead or manage your team with a Melbourne business advisor.

So what are the traits of a leader and a manager and how do they work together?

A leader has their eye on the horizon and a manager has their eye on the bottom line! 

As a leader you need to have the vision to know where you are, where you want to go and how to enrol your team.  Without this step, a manager cannot work with the team to execute the plan.  The leader plans general goals and the direction for which the business must move towards and the manager focuses on the specifics.

nursery managerKeeping the team inspired to push through to the next level and ensuring that everyone understands their role in the bigger picture is a leadership role which allows the manager to control day to day work strategies, anticipate needs and review resources. 

A manager asks 'how' and 'when' and the leader asks 'what' and 'why'.  A manager maintains control and order and a leader develops an environment for change.

The ability to challenge the status quo and to do things differently – to think outside the box -- enables a manager to ensure that the processes and systems in place are the most effective and efficient. The leader focuses on people, the manager focuses on the system and processes.

Great communication skills, with the ability to keep the team informed of the progress, where you are, where you are heading and any speed bumps expected along the way are traits of a great leader. This enables a manager to look after the team, listen to their needs and involve them in the process.

Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing.  So managers’ focus on rules, compliance and tasks and ensuring things are done right, on time and on budget and leaders focus on purpose, principles and people, in other words doing the right thing.

As small business owners, the challenge often lies in making sure you are both leading your team as well as managing the day to day operations. Whether you’re a leader or a manager it’s about achieving maximum results in minimum time. 

The key decision a manager must make daily is "what I am looking at to confirm alignment?". is 100% in the following areas against the vision or current plan:

  • Positioning of the business and its target market being served.  Are we cost effective in delivering value every day so that we can earn repeat and referral business?
  • People – are they the right people in the right roles to achieve the desired outcomes we are striving for.
  • Passion -- Is everyone still committed to the task at hand and giving their Personal Best?
  • Purpose – does this business provide a purpose greater than just making money?
  • Profits – are we making profit?  How are we trending?  What’s working, what’s not working and what are we doing about it?

So are there differences between leaders and managers?  Yes and both roles are critical. 

Be both a leader and a manager

But it should also be noted that the two roles overlap. Of course in small business, there are those who are able to do both.  Then there are those that put their hand up and educate themselves in the area they are weakest.

You can learn how to be a leader, or get the skills to manage more effectively. A business advisory can help you achieve these essential business skills. Business Benchmark Group is one of the leaders in Melbourne business advisory and coaching. Are you ready?

Contact us on 03 9001 0878 to discuss your business.

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