One of the biggest shifts I see CEOs having to make as they begin the journey of business ownership is the way they view leadership and management.
As a business consultant working with business owners at all levels of experience, from those just starting up to those who are scaling a 7+ figure company, what I see frequently is that many CEOs are unable to distinguish leadership from management.
This is because for years, modern society has related leadership to an individual’s role in an organisation. We assume that all “bosses” and “CEOs” have to be leaders due to their title.
The reality couldn’t be more different. It makes me so happy to assert that ANYONE can be a leader — from the CEO of a company to an entry-level employee. What it comes down to more than title or rank is possessing the right perspective, mindset, and leader-like qualities.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to be breaking down the true definition of leadership, explaining what it looks like in contrast to management, and giving you a few tips on how you can further cultivate your strengths to step into more of a leadership role moving forward.
Let’s dive in!
Leadership vs. Management: The Breakdown
When you think of a manager, you probably think of somebody whose job it is to oversee a team, assign orders and tasks, and ultimately keep things running smoothly. Does the same image come to mind when you think of a leader?
Perhaps not. And that’s okay, because it shouldn’t. Leaders and managers are distinctly separate titles that describe totally different roles. So, let’s define both of them so you know exactly what I’m referring to when I mention both “leaders” and “managers” throughout this blog post.
A leader is somebody who inspires, while managers oversee. You’ll typically see strong leaders focus on motivating and encouraging their times, while managers are more centered around organising and executing tasks.
Both leadership and management involve setting a direction for others to follow, but the qualities that leaders and managers possess are a bit separate.
Common characteristics of good leaders include identifying and nurturing talent, pushing the envelope of what is possible, consistent innovation, taking calculated risks, and championing employees.
Common characteristics of good managers include maintaining the status quo, detecting and addressing inefficiencies, mitigating risks, ensuring tasks are completed, and so on.
See the difference?
It’s also important to know that while leaders can be managers (and often do take on a managerial role at some point in their careers), and managers can be leaders, the two are not mutually exclusive. If you’ve ever worked under a really bad or nasty manager, it’s likely because they lacked true leadership qualities.
Here are some more critical differences between leaders and managers:
- Leaders are responsible for setting the vision of a company. This means taking the overall direction of the company into account when considering future plans and endeavors and creating a big picture strategy to help those plans come to life. Conversely, managers are responsible for executing that vision and figuring out the essential processes and smaller stepping stones that will make it possible. This is a classic example of how visionaries and executors work together.
- Leaders are people-focused where managers are process-focused. This means that leaders are there to nurture, inspire, motivate, and mentor the people they lead. Doing this authentically and effectively requires investing a lot of time into understanding the passions and values of their employees and team members, which is why good leaders are also instrumental in helping to cultivate a company culture that is built on camaraderie and community. On the other hand, managers tend to invest more time into researching and/or developing processes and SOPs that will help achieve team goals. This isn’t to say that managers can’t be people-focused, but it isn’t a strict pillar of the title the way it is for strong leaders.
Another key difference that separates leadership from management is the skills that apply to both. Leadership skills are typically soft-skills based and more difficult to quantify, such as:
- Relationship building
- Strategic thinking
Management skills tend to be technical, hard skills like:
- Planning and budgeting
- Task allocation
Let’s look at an example of leadership versus management.
Take an online business manager working for a business coach. The online business manager’s role within the company is to oversee client projects and launches, delegate tasks to the other members of the team, and ensure that deadlines are met. These responsibilities vary drastically from those of the business coach who is the CEO behind the operation. This individual is going to be more focused on bringing in new clients, working on long-term growth and expansion strategy, and networking.
The thing is, one role isn’t more important than the other. Without the online business manager, the coach would struggle to execute the day-to-day tasks that allow their vision to come alive. And without the coach, the online business manager wouldn’t be motivated to work towards a bigger picture and outcome.
As the CEO of your business, it’s likely that you will get more confident in your role as a leader over time. Let this blog post serve as a reminder that the best leaders are those with a vision, who care about the people working alongside them deeply, and who understand the importance of having a kickass executor on board to help them actually make their dreams a reality. You truly can’t do it alone.
Are you ready to uplevel your leadership mindset? If so, let’s hop on a strategy call to do some deep inner work and figure out how you can tap into your inner leader. I can’t wait to chat with you!