Leader? Manager? or Hybrid?
The challenge for the small business owner (and yes, the photo is a long shot – A Labradoodle ‘hybrid’ – but who doesn’t love the odd dog picture?!)
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch
There are many business owners who are inventors, creators, skilled in one specific area – perhaps that’s you. And you may not see yourself as a natural born leader; as someone who could inspire a team to walk through fire for them. Or maybe you’re an ‘accidental manager’ – someone who never wanted to manage people, but now finds themselves with a small team.
Back in the day, there was a very clear distinction between a leader and a manager. In a nutshell, leaders were considered to do all of the strategy and big picture thinking, while managers did all of the organising of resources and looked after execution of the strategy. In the corporate world, this can often still be the case, but in the world of the successful small business, there is a very real need for leaders to be managers, and vice versa.
The view still exists today that management skills can be learned whereas leadership is less tangible; more an ability that you’re either born with, or you’re not.
I’m a firm believer that anyone with the will, can learn and develop leadership skills just as they can learn and develop management skills.
Yes, I think without doubt, some people are born leaders; they have a charisma and an energy about them that can’t be taught or learned. Some come from backgrounds where there were no positive role models and yet they still emerge to inspire and lead others. And there are many types of leader; take Ghandi for instance who galvanised a nation by his quiet example and perseverance.
But I know equally, that you can learn leadership behaviours. And it’s fair to say that charisma on its own, without the leadership behaviours to match it, can be a dangerous thing. Remember Bill Clinton? He is a great example of a man with amazing charisma and energy, who was a little flawed when it came to being a leader.
So what are the qualities of a great leader? Here are my personal top 7:
- Be clear in your direction – people want to follow someone with a vision they can buy into
- Communicate clearly – don’t try to be someone you’re not – and keep people updated on progress towards your vision
- Show respect for the individuals in your team – treat them fairly and as adults
- Be consistent – be the same person every day, someone your team can trust and rely on
- Develop your people and look for the leaders amongst them
- Be confident – make a decision when your team need one
- Be resilient and determined – a great example to your team of how to bounce back from hard knocks
Every manager needs to be a leader and every leader needs to be a manager. In your role as a leader you’ll make sure that your team know where they’re going, that they feel comfortable, that they grow as people and contribute to achieving team goals.
But people need structure to succeed. So as a manager you need the skills to organise your team’s activity and make best use of the resources you have to deliver on your goals. A manager without leadership skills won’t optimise their team’s potential. On the other hand, a leader without management skills will be chaotic and drive their team mad.
Great leaders are also managers because they understand the best way to harness their team to get the work done to achieve their goals.
Great managers are also leaders because they know how to make best use of their own skills and talent and more importantly how to get the best out of every individual in their team to deliver even greater results.
All of these skills and behaviours can be learned. But there is one last quality I’d like to share that marks out a leader/manager who is committed to being as good as they can be: The willingness to ask for help
“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said”? asked the boy.
“Help!” said the horse.
Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Don’t ever be too afraid or too proud to ask for it.
Do one thing: think about your role as a leader manager. What skills or behaviours do you need to develop so you’re better able to grow your team? What help might you need?
Thanks for reading.