“Manage” and “lead” are two different verbs with very different implications in modern business culture, and while this difference may seem inconsequential at the employee level, it takes on a heavier meaning for those who find themselves promoted to supervisory roles. Throughout almost every industry, this question weighs on the minds of new business owners and new department heads: “Am I a manager or a leader? Which one should I be? And in which role do I offer more value to the company?”
The Goals of a Leader
It’s an old saying, but it still holds a grain of truth: “Managers do things right; leaders do right things.” While managers execute operational procedures, leaders make crucial decisions about the shape these procedures will take. It’s a leader’s job to establish and clarify an overarching mission, and then rally a group of people and drive them forward in pursuit of defined goals. Leaders motivate, train, generate incentives, set the standard, shape the culture, and hold the team together when the going gets difficult. A leader’s role is visionary at the start: leaders need to create a goal, a mission, and a direction out of thin air and abstract ideas. Beyond the visionary, a leader’s role becomes focused on people. Once a direction is established, it’s a leader’s job to turn a random group of employees into a cohesive and successful team.
The Goals of a Manager
Once clear visions are in place, managers step in to follow through and bring these visions to life. Managers create rules, establish systems, correct systems that aren’t functional, apply incentive programs, make connections, build foundations, and oversee training programs to make sure team members have the resources they need to get where they need to go. Managers are said to be operations-focused while leaders are people-focused. But, of course, these distinctions sometimes blur in real life, and most people at the supervisory and executive level possess some degree of both skill sets.
Navigating the Difference
The real need to form a distinction between “manager behavior” and “leader behavior” often arises when individuals take the helm of a new enterprise that falls completely under their own control. Small and start-up business owners sometimes find themselves faced with both responsibilities and having to choose between the two—as in, “How can I solve this problem or approach this issue? Should I think like a leader right now, or a manager?” For the most part, leadership responsibilities come first—before a plan can be put into place and carried out, clear goals need to be established, and these goals need to be built around a focused and meaningful mission.
Before a team can be presented with a road map to a destination, the destination will have to be identified. But business owners should remember that both roles are vital for success, and neither can exist on its own.
For more tips on leading the best team in the Dallas area, contact High Profile Staffing.