Tackling entrepreneurship involves juggling multiple roles at once. In the early stages, you’ll need to play a variety of roles from HR, Sales, Fulfilment and more.
As you progress and grow a team however, you’ll eventually have to work with people conducting various activities in your business. This is where the distinction between leadership and management is muddied, but is still inherently important.
Leadership is largely defined more closely to a leader charting the course with people who follow them ahead whilst management as a field describes the manager maintaining the status quo with people who work for them.
The differences between them stem from two stakeholders: the manager or leader and subordinates or followers and their professional dynamics.
Successful business owners have to possess traits of both a strong leader and manager to convince and direct a team towards the direction of success.
1. You Must Earn the Role of a Leader, but Still Maintain a Manager’s Tasks
By default, employees follow the orders to their superiors (managers). This is more because of the role or rank attributed to them by virtue of their position rather than a conscious choice to do so. This professional relationship between manager and subordinate works to a large part to accomplish day-to-day tasks without jeopardising the status quo.
However, when push comes to shove, this dynamic can be shaken and threatened. If teams are mismanaged or mistreated, their loyalties can very quickly be adjusted.
In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey reveals 58 percent or people say they trust strangers more than their own boss.
Entrepreneurs have to also assume the role of a leader, to earn the trust and respect of their followers. Followers should be compelled to make decisions to listen to leaders based off their own volition rather than because of any hierarchical construct.
Coupling both leadership and management in this case is to try to avoid sacrificing the professional relationships at the workplace present between managers and subordinates, being able to still enforce deadlines, whilst being able to have tasks performed willingly by your followers.
Making the transition:
Get involved in the struggles and challenges of your team. Ensure that any task you delegate is one that you can adequately understand and offer support to your staff when needed. Having skin in the game is one of the hallmarks of a good leader.
2. Learning Goes Both Ways
Management typically involves a one-way approach to communications which can sometimes stifle the confidence and learning curve of all stakeholders involved. This relationship happens when the manager is the only subject matter expert whilst everyone else supports mainly implementation. This can also result in over-management as managers tend to micro-manage when given full power over working ‘cogs’.
Leadership on the other hand embraces the prospect that managed personnel are inherently capable and have abilities that might be equally suited to handle various tasks even better than the leader. Basically, leaders know when to admit they don’t know everything and that they can be wrong.
Making learning a two-way exercise empowers followers to be more daring and guarantees the evolution of the organisation over time. Knowing when to do this is the difficult part.
As a manager, you’ll need to conduct regular training to imbue staff with necessary skills and procedures to accomplish their tasks. As a leader, you need to open your mind to ensure that you don’t stifle potential and creativity within the team and workplace to create an environment where ideas are shared freely.
Making the transition:
Give your team ownership and credit for the work that they do and their various expertise. Acknowledge that you might not always be the best in every area and seek to instead help your team of professionals do their best work. Create an open environment where people are not afraid to speak up.
3. Go Further, or Go Faster
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – an African Proverb
Executives have a choice to pursue general efficiency or loftier goals overall as a priority in their management style.
Managers tend to optimise tasks for efficiency and speed whilst maintaining a good grip on control; while Leaders seek to relinquish control to empower teams to make their own decisions and pave the way in accordance to visions they set.
Generally in smaller companies and even larger teams, this structure serves to encourage faster growth and efficiency in processes. The truth is that you can’t do everything on your own, leading a team is the way to move together, further and faster.
As a manager, there will be instances where you need to be ruthlessly focused on a priority task ahead, at times, speeding towards the finish line all on your own. Other times, you’ll want to lead your team to work together to fill any gaps in experience or quality. It’s about toe-ing the line and being versatile to play either role when necessary.
And sometimes, to have them follow you, you’ll need to show them instead of tell them. Overcoming your fear of public speaking is a good first step to take to become a more confident leader.
Making the transition:
See the pursuit of excellence as an exercise that you do together with your team. You work hard together, play hard together and reap the fruits together.
Your followers need to feel that they have a stake in the outcome you’re after and as a leader you must remember that no man is an island.
4. Invest in People, Not Just Process
Management can sometimes lead to de-humanisation when there is an over-emphasis on processes and formality. Global studies reveal that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving.
Playing the role of a leader is a lot more than following steps and learning about best practices. It’s about being an empathetic and authentic human being.
Try dishing out a few kind words on a job well done, create an environment where excellence feels just as rewarding and don’t let the context of work dampen human relationships you can develop with your team.
As a manager, it pays to invest in good processes that take care of itself so that the organisation can run like a well-oiled machine. However, processes are inherently still ‘powered by’ humans and you need to assume the role of a leader to keep your team motivated to take initiative to take these processes to the next level.
Making the transition:
Every executive is on their own journey in life and in their careers. We all seek growth, meaning and active progression. As a leader in your organization, you have to recognize that and lay the groundwork and pave the road ahead for your team members to grow and feel appreciated as human beings. Stop looking at problems through the lens of a body corporate, but begin to see how you can tackle it without compromising the morale or growth of your team.
In summary, being an effective executive or entrepreneur involves more than simply playing a single role of either a manager or leader. It’s about developing a unified mission that your team and you will work towards together, and creating the formal environment for it to be able to happen in a systematic fashion.
Essentially, great leaders are usually required to be great managers too.
Endeavouring towards becoming both a strong leader and manager can sometimes seem like hunting for a ‘unicorn’ of an ideal. If you take the right steps towards it, I’m confident you’ll see a dramatic, but positive growth spurt.