What Is the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager? Or Do You Have to Be Both?

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What Is the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager? Or Do You Have to Be Both?

As business begins to return to some kind of normality, it’ll be crucial that we step up to the plate and give clear, effective guidance to our teams to help get things back on track after this period of disruption. We’ll need to be both a manager and a leader in order to make this happen.
But is there a difference between a manager and a leader? If you work in a SME, you probably think the answer to the question above is obvious. You have to be both things to all people, right?
To a certain extent I agree. Heading-up a SME company myself, I’m often required to lead and manage and call on the skills needed for both. But, I do believe there are important differences as well.
To me, being a leader in a business is about creating inspiration, demonstrating positivity and vision and leading by example from the front. As a leader, you have to embody everything it means to work for your organisation and constantly uphold its values, culture and tone of voice. You have to create meaning and direction and set the pace and tempo for the group.
So, if leadership is inspired and visionary, I believe management is practical, hands on and every day. To me, management involves setting budgets, boundaries, organising plans and making sure they’re carried out.

So, should you attempt to combine management and leadership, or excel at just one?

In my view, effective leadership and management in equal measure are critical to the success of a business. They aren’t mutually exclusive, and therefore can be combined.
If you’re a manager, you’ve probably got a natural ability for the skills required for that role, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add to them and learn the skills required of a leader. While I believe being an effective leader is more down to ‘nature’ than ‘nurture’, I also believe you can work on polishing the skills that will make you a better manager, too.

Should great leaders surround themselves with excellent managers?

Yes; both excellent and diverse. It is an old adage but it’s true; as a leader, you should have an acute sense of self-awareness and an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. When you’re established, it’s up to you to surround yourself with individuals who are different and stronger where you are less so. Diversity of talent and skills is so important for strong and sustained growth in any sector.
Want to discuss how to make the best of your leaders and managers? Contact our team on 01274 864 999.

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